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Ofcom greenlights BBC Three’s return to linear TV with content conditions

Monkey Dust

UK regulator Ofcom has given the go-ahead for youth-skewing BBC Three to return to linear TV.

BBC Three launched in 2003 as an edgy, youth-skewing linear channel focused on comedy and reality, commissioning break-out hits such as Monkey Dust, Gavin & Stacey and Don’t Tell the Bride.

It controversially moved to an online-only channel in 2016, following which it premiered a number of scripted hits via BBC iPlayer such as Killing Eve, Fleabag and Normal People.

In March this year, the BBC announced plans to reinstate the channel on linear TV.

Planned to relaunch in January 2022, BBC Three will broadcast between 19.00 and 04.00 each day in the same Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) slot as kids’ channel CBBC, which will adjust its hours to close at 19.00 each day.

Between 19.00 and the 21.00 watershed, BBC Three, which generally targets a 16-34 audience, will show content suitable for a 13-plus age group.

Following its approval of the move, Ofcom said: “We carefully assessed the BBC’s plans, alongside evidence and feedback gathered during our consultation. We found that the channel’s potential value to viewers ultimately outweighs the limited impact we identified on rival broadcasters.

“The relaunch of BBC Three is one part of how the BBC intends to deliver for all audiences, which is critical for its future sustainability.”

Ofcom added that, in order to ensure the channel is distinctive, at least 75% of hours broadcast each year must be original programmes, commissioned by the BBC for UK viewers. It is also requiring the channel to deliver first-run UK content across a mix of genres, as well as weekday news programmes.

Additionally, Ofcom has made changes to its Code of Practice on EPGs, to ensure BBC Three appears within the first 24 slots of on-screen television guides.


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