BBC Three is set to return to TV screens for the first time in six years, after Ofcom today approved its relaunch as a broadcast television channel.

The channel will launch in early February 2022 and will be available on Freeview, Sky, Virgin and Freesat with EPG numbers to be confirmed at a later date.

The BBC submitted proposals to Ofcom to reinstate BBC Three as a traditional TV channel – offering news, current affairs, factual, drama, entertainment and comedy, targeting viewers aged 16-34 who don’t typically watch TV online.

Ofcom concluded that the channel’s re-launch will help the BBC to increase its reach among younger underserved viewers – particularly those from lower-income homes, and audiences who live outside London and the South East.

To ensure the channel is distinctive, Ofcom said at least 75% of hours broadcast each year must be original programmes, commissioned by the BBC for UK viewers.

Ofcom also requires the channel to deliver first-run UK content across a mix of genres, as well as weekday news programmes.

Fiona Campbell, Controller BBC Three said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that Ofcom have now confirmed that BBC Three will be returning to TV screens next year. This is a big moment, with the new channel providing a destination for young audiences to discover more content on the BBC.

“We will work hand in hand with iPlayer to provide a broad offering that is representative of the whole of the UK and we will continue to back new talent and bold ideas. This approach will bring the audience a distinctive mix of programmes that are there to entertain, inspire and challenge thinking, at a pivotal and exciting time to be young in the UK.”

Following budget cuts at the BBC, the BBC Three linear channel ceased operations on 16 February 2016.

Jon Creamer

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