The BBC first announced that it wanted to bring the youth and millennial-oriented channel back to linear TV grids after a five-year absence and being digital-only in that time. As a linear and digital channel, BBC was the launchpad for smash hit TV series Gavin And Stacey, Little Britain and Torchwood and then subsequently Fleabag, Normal People and Killing Eve on a digital-only basis.
As part of what it says is its drive to deliver more value to audiences, the BBC said that it now needs to back success and make sure its programmes reach as many young people as possible, wherever they live in the UK. And that regardless of the debates about the past, it wanted to give BBC Three its own broadcast channel again.
The move though came under the watchful eye of Ofcom as a requirement of the BBC Charter and Agreement is for the regulator to ensure that any change the BBC wishes to make to its publicly funded TV, radio and online services does not give it an unfair advantage over rival broadcasters.
In July 2021 Ofcom announced that after completing its initial assessment of the BBC’s proposal to launch BBC Three as a television channel in January 2022, it was launching a full competition assessment into the proposal, adding that that it needed to judge whether the public value of a proposed change justifies any adverse effects on fair and effective competition.
Having conducted what it said was a detailed analysis of the BBC’s proposal, Ofcom provisionally concluded that the public value of BBC Three returning as a broadcast channel justifies the limited adverse market impact. It provisionally found that the channel would increase the availability and reach of BBC Three to people who currently don’t access it – particularly viewers from lower income households and those living outside of London and the South-East.
In light of the provisional decision, Ofcom is also consulting on proposed changes to its Electronic Programme Guide Code of Practice. Subject to its final competition assessment decision on BBC Three, these changes would ensure the channel appears within the first 24 slots of on-screen programme guides.
Both consultations will run until 14 October 2021, and Ofcom expects to publish its final decisions before the end of this year. Rapid TV News