BBC Three to return as TV channel next year, announces Ofcom

The network that launched ‘Fleabag’ has only been available online since 2016

Ellie Harrison
Thursday 25 November 2021 12:03
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Fleabag series 2 trailer

BBC Three, the digital platform that’s brought the public shows such as Fleabag and Normal People, is returning as a TV channel in 2022.

On Thursday (25 November), media regulator Ofcom officially confirmed a February launch for BBC Three.

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

BBC Three first launched as a broadcast channel in February 2003. It was on air for 13 years until February 2016 when it moved online to follow audience habits.

It is now being reinstated as a TV channel with the aim of reaching underserved youth audiences and an emphasis placed on original programming.

In a statement, Ofcom said: “We carefully assessed the BBC’s plans, alongside evidence and feedback gathered during our consultation.

“We 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, at least 75 per cent of hours broadcast each year must be original programmes, commissioned by the BBC for UK viewers. We are also requiring the channel to deliver first-run UK content across a mix of genres, as well as weekday news programmes.”

‘Gavin and Stacey’ first aired on BBC Three

BBC Three has launched many beloved shows over the years, from Gavin & Stacey in 2007 and People Just Do Nothing in 2014 to Fleabag in 2016 and Normal People in 2020.

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Commenting on the decision, Fiona Campbell, controller for BBC Three, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled... 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 programs that are there to entertain, inspire and challenge thinking, at a pivotal and exciting time to be young in the UK.”

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