Advanced Television

Provisional OK for BBC Three linear relaunch

September 16, 2021

By Colin Mann

Media regulator Ofcom has provisionally concluded that the BBC should be permitted to re-launch BBC Three as a broadcast television channel. It is now seeking views on the decision from interested or affected organisations and individuals.

Ofcom initially concluded that the proposed relaunch would constitute a material change to the Corporation’s UK public service activities, requiring a full BBC Competition Assessment (BCA) to allow further scrutiny of its plans,

As the communications regulator, part of Ofcom’s role is to make sure any changes the BBC makes to its publicly-funded TV, radio and online services don’t give it an unfair advantage over other broadcasters. To do this, it needs to judge whether the public value of a proposed change justifies any negative market impact it might have.

Ofcom says it has analysed the proposal in detail and has provisionally concluded that the public value of BBC Three’s return as a broadcast channel justifies the limited adverse market impact that might arise from it.

It also provisionally found that the relaunch of BBC Three as a broadcast channel would increase its availability and reach to people who don’t currently have access to it. These include people from lower income households and those living outside of London and the south east.

Following its provisional decision, it is also consulting on proposed changes to its Electronic Programme Guide Code of Practice. Depending on its final decision on BBC Three, these changes would ensure the channel appears within the first 24 slots of on-screen programme guides.

Both consultations run until October 14th 2021, and Ofcom expects to publish its final decisions before the end of 2021.

Ofcom’s provisional decision is to allow the BBC to go ahead with the proposed relaunch of BBC Three. It expects to publish a final conclusion by December 2021. If it confirms its provisional decision, the regulator understands that the BBC wishes to launch the new service early in the New Year.

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