The wait for BBC Three’s return goes on for some viewers in the Republic of Ireland, normally accustomed to receiving BBC TV.
BBC Three relaunched at 7pm on 1st February 2022 across the UK, available on all major TV platforms. But across the Republic of Ireland, BBC Three remained absent from Electronic Programme Guides.
Technically, most hurdles are cleared. An adapted version of BBC Three’s satellite signal is ready for Sky Ireland. Cable and IPTV providers also have access to BBC Three via their distribution systems.
That leaves commercial and regulatory hurdles. BBC channels are available in the country on a commercial basis. Before a channel is added, the BBC’s commercial arm, BBC Studios (formerly BBC Worldwide) will negotiate a carriage deal with the relevant pay TV operator. So far none of the main providers has been able to confirm a launch date for BBC Three, although Sky indicates it expects to carry the service soon.
However, since Brexit, an extra hurdle now exists before Irish operators can carry UK channels.
UK Ofcom broadcast licences are no longer valid in the country. And as Ireland is not part of the European Convention on Transfrontier Television (ECTT), UK broadcasters can’t fall back on that.
As a result, all main BBC channels are now also licenced in Luxembourg, through media regulator ALIA. This covers the distribution of BBC channels in not just the Republic of Ireland, but also The Netherlands and Belgium, where the BBC has similar commercial deals with pay TV operators.
The latest ALIA licensing update confirms BBC Three is not currently licenced by them.
Once regulatory clearance is confirmed, BBC Three can be officially made available in the Republic.
In the meantime, Sky viewers can add BBC Three via the Other Channels menu. It’s available from 7pm every evening.
The tuning details for BBC Three HD are:
Frequency: 10847 Polarisation: Vertical Mode: DVB-S2, 8PSK Symbol Rate: 23000 (23.0 Mbaud) FEC: 3/4 Service ID: 6951 - BBC Three HD
BBC services licensed in Luxembourg
These BBC channels are licenced in Luxembourg, through media regulator ALIA:
- BBC One HD/SD, BBC Two HD/SD, BBC Four HD/SD, BBC News SD, CBeebies HD/SD and CBBC HD/SD.
Their licence confirms adherence to Ireland’s broadcasting codes (BAI Code of Programme Standards).
BBC World News also holds a Luxembourg licence to broadcast across all EU and EEA countries, but follows Luxembourg’s child protection/age ratings regulations (système de protection des mineurs).
Incidentally, most other UK broadcasters have opted to acquire a licence in Luxembourg to continue broadcasting in the Irish Republic. These include all Sky channels, Channel 4, ITV3 and 4, all UKTV channels, Ideal World, QVC, Colors, Utsav and Zee TV.
BBC overspill reception in Ireland – terrestrial
Viewers within range of Freeview transmitters in Northern Ireland and Wales may also receive BBC TV directly from the UK. The service is as received in the UK.
Why are UK licence fee funded channels available outside the UK?
The BBC has commercial arrangements with pay TV operators in neighbouring countries and earns extra income. As a result, viewers receiving BBC channels are still paying for them through their subscription. They won’t pay the same amount as a licence fee payer, but they don’t receive the same range of BBC live and on-demand services.
The extent of the BBC’s availability is limited due to the way broadcast rights holders (usually large multi-national media organisations and sports organisations) carve up different groups of nations and language groups. Switzerland allows operators to take free-to-air signals whether or not the broadcaster approves, but they must compensate rights holders.
Historically, the BBC gained a foothold in Belgium, the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland through terrestrial signal overspill. This occurred long before broadcast rights were the issue they are today. This established a precedent for how broadcast rights are agreed. BBC agreements with performing rights organisations also include clearance for Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Incidentally, the ‘UK spotbeam‘ satellite footprint of the Astra satellites that carry the BBC (and other major UK broadcasters) also overspills in to the same countries, meaning the BBC isn’t paying extra to make the services available.
First published 01/02/2022; Republished 03/02/2022