The BBC has confirmed the return of BBC Three to TV screens as a linear channel in January 2022. In February 2016, the service became the first TV channel in the world to make the switch from linear broadcast channel to online-first destination.
The BBC’s Annual Plan 2020/21, published last year, outlined research which confirmed there remains an available audience on broadcast television for BBC Three.
The channel will broadcast from 7pm to 4am each day, the same as the hours of the channel when it closed in 2016. As a result CBBC’s broadcast hours will revert to closing at 7pm – as was the case before 2016. Consequently, the BBC says it intends to expand the remit of BBC Three with a pre-watershed content offer suitable for 13+.
The BBC will not take any further traditional TV channel capacity for its services, but reallocate distribution capacity from existing services within the current space.
Charlotte Moore, Chief Content Officer, said: “BBC Three is a BBC success story, backing creativity, new talent and brave ideas has resulted in hit after hit, from Fleabag and Man Like Mobeen, Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK and Jesy Nelson’s Odd One Out, to Normal People and This Country.
“The BBC needs to back success and make sure its programmes reach as many young people as possible wherever they live in the UK. So regardless of the debates about the past, we want to give BBC Three its own broadcast channel again. It has exciting, groundbreaking content that deserves the widest possible audience and using BBC iPlayer alongside a broadcast channel will deliver the most value,” she added
The BBC said that the returning BBC Three will deliver greater public value by further increasing the diversity and creativity of its output and build on the strengths of BBC Three’s online performance. At least two-thirds of the expanded BBC Three’s programme spend will be outside of London and across the UK.
Julian Knight MP, Chair of the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said the BBC’s decision to bring back BBC Three to TVs was an acknowledgement by the broadcaster that it is failing to reach young audiences. “I question whether putting the clock back five years is the right way to win over 18-35s,” he added. “The extra investment found to pay for this is also happening at the same time that those over 75 are being chased to pay up for their TV licences.”