The children’s channel returns to its original broadcasting hours, as the BBC unwinds changes made under previous management six years ago.
CBBC will run until 9pm for the final time on Tuesday 4th January 2022. From the following day, the channel will close at just before 7pm.
The change is linked to the relaunch of BBC Three at the beginning of February. BBC Three will timeshare CBBC’s broadcast spectrum, with the switch completing at 18:58 each evening. CBBC’s evening schedule is being reduced ahead of BBC Three’s re-launch to allow essential configuration changes to complete. It will also allow test transmissions to be broadcast in the timeslot.
CBBC originally expanded its hours in April 2016, following the original closure of the BBC Three channel. At the time, the decision to extend CBBC hours appeared to run contrary to the central argument in favour of closing BBC Three. Under previous Director-General Lord Tony Hall, BBC management argued that younger viewers were switching online, justifying the closure of linear services. Despite this, CBBC’s hours were increased, even though the shift to online viewing appeared to be more pronounced among children and teenagers.
At the time, ITV responded to CBBC’s extra hours by extending CITV by three hours a night. Consequently, both channels have finished at 9pm.
Broadcast regulator Ofcom approved the changes earlier this year. In its analysis of the BBC’s proposals, it noted that most programmes shown between 7pm and 9pm were repeats. It considered “the size of the audience watching at that time and likely to be affected” to be “relatively small.”