The BBC has confirmed that BBC3 is to return as a linear channel in January next year.

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.

BBC Three has delivered big hits for the corporation since it became a digital only platform including Killing Eve, Fleabag and Normal People.

The BBC said: “We believe in backing success and, having committed to double the investment on BBC Three commissions over the next two years, we want to showcase that content to a wider audience. Using both a broadcast channel and BBC iPlayer in tandem, will help to grow our offer and deliver more value to younger audiences.”

Charlotte Moore, Chief Content Officer says: “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.”

The returning BBC Three will aim for at least two-thirds of the expanded BBC Three’s programme spend to be outside of London and across the UK.

The launch in January 2022 will mean adapting CBBC’s operating hours. The new 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. As a result, the BBC Three remit will be expanded with a pre-watershed content offer suitable for 13+.

Jon Creamer

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