The UK’s broadcasting watchdog says the public value of BBC Three returning as a broadcast channel justifies the limited adverse market impact on commercial broadcasters.
Ofcom’s assessment noted the relaunched BBC Three channel will particularly benefit previously underserved viewers. These include viewers from low income backgrounds living outside of London and the South East.
Launching with an annual content budget of £72.5 million, the relaunched channel will provide factual entertainment, drama, UK and international current affairs, comedy, live sport, live music and films.
A nightly news bulletin also forms part of the proposals. Original BBC productions will make up 70% of BBC Three’s broadcast hours. Acquisitions (imports) will make up the remaining 30%. But Ofcom wants to increase the BBC quota to 75%.
As a result of the BBC Three returning to the airwaves, CBBC’s broadcast hours are being cut. From around to end at 7pm. CBBC broadcast capacity will then be used for BBC Three for the evening and overnight period. The first two hours of BBC Three’s programmes will include content of interest to 13-15 year olds. BBC Three’s main audience is the 16-34 age group.
To accommodate the return of BBC Three, Ofcom proposes to give TV platform operators including Sky and Virgin up to 18 months to free up a top 24 slot for the channel. This means BBC Three could launch on a lower channel number before moving up.
A final approval is dependant on the outcome of a final consultation with stakeholders, running until 14th October 2021.
BBC Three was controversially removed from TV platforms in 2016, becoming an online-only branded strand of the iPlayer. Selected BBC Three programmes have been made available on BBC One and BBC Two. A move to promote BBC Three’s programmes to a late night slot on BBC One from Mondays-Fridays aliened BBC One’s traditional late evening viewers.
Availability of BBC Three
- Broadcast from 1900-0400 daily.
- To be available in both standard and high definition on Sky, Freesat and Virgin Media.
- To be available in standard definition on Freeview. In England and Northern Ireland, the channel will also be available in HD. No HD broadcast on Freeview in Scotland and Wales where BBC Scotland and S4C HD will take the capacity.
- A consultation is now taking place with TV platform regarding providing BBC Three with a top 24 slot on all platforms.