United Kingdom

Media regulator Ofcom supports return of BBC3

Plans to bring back BBC3 as a traditional TV channel have been given the go-ahead by Ofcom.

The media regulator says the ‘public value’ of the step justifies the small impact it will have on youth-focused commercial rivals such as Channel 4.

It added that making it a traditional TV channel would increase its reach ‘to people who don’t currently access it, notably those from lower-income households and those from outside of London and the South East’.

The media regulator says the ‘public value’ of the step justifies the small impact it will have on youth-focused commercial rivals such as Channel 4

In 2016 the corporation took BBC3 off air because it said young viewers had abandoned traditional viewing, despite it being the home of hits such as Fleabag and Killing Eve.

It added that making it a traditional TV channel would increase its reach ‘to people who don’t currently access it, notably those from lower-income households and those from outside of London and the South East’

However, as the pandemic hit last year and BBC3 spawned another hit with Normal People, the corporation decided that there is still a ‘significant group of younger viewers who maintain a strong linear TV habit’.

Ofcom said after a ‘detailed analysis’ of the BBC’s plans ‘we have provisionally concluded that the public value of BBC3 returning as a broadcast channel justifies the limited adverse market impact’.

The media regulator will now seek views on the decision and the channel is expected to appear in the first 24 slots of the electronic programme guide.

In a note to staff from director-general Tim Davie and other senior bosses, they said: ‘It is a fantastic vote of confidence in our drive to deliver more value and grow our offer for younger audiences across the UK.’

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