BBC Three to return as TV channel after Ofcom approval
BBC Three will return as a TV channel six years after being taken off the air.
Media regulator Ofcom has given the interim green light for the channel’s return to television, after the BBC initially took it off the air under the impression that young audiences no longer consume television on a traditional basis .
The channel was taken off the air in 2016, with the company believing that an online-only version would better appeal to younger audiences.
After the success of hit shows like Normal people, Kill Eve and RuPaul Drag Race in UK during the pandemic, however, the BBC announced plans to relaunch the channel – more than double BBC Three’s annual budget to over £ 70million.
The decision was made on the realization that while many young viewers have moved online, a substantial amount is still consuming broadcast television.
Ofcom then investigated the potential impact of the channel’s comeback, after competitors expressed concern that it could deprive viewers of other youth-focused broadcasters like Channel 4. However, the regular has now provisionally approved the return of BBC Three to television.
In a statement, Ofcom said: “Our job is to ensure that any changes the BBC wishes to make to its publicly funded television, radio and online services do not give it an unfair advantage over rival broadcasters.
“After carrying out a detailed analysis of the BBC’s proposal, we have tentatively concluded that the public value of the return of BBC Three as a broadcast channel justifies the limited negative impact on the market.”
Ofcom also said that the return of BBC Three as a channel would benefit some demographics and regions that do not currently use streaming services like BBC iPlayer – citing viewers from “low-income households and those living outside of London and the South East ”.
A BBC spokesperson said: “It’s a fantastic vote of confidence in our drive to deliver more value and expand our offering to younger audiences across the UK.
“We are committed to increasing our investments in the channel’s programming, which will allow us to deliver even more of our award-winning content and expand our creative partnerships in countries and regions across the UK. “
A final decision on the channel’s return is expected to be confirmed later this year, with BBC Three expected to be back in 2022.