BBC Three dealt blow as Ofcom review sparks delay fears for channel’s return to TV

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Back in 2016, the BBC announced its decision to move BBC Three completely online after the channel had spent 13 years on air. Known for being behind some of the world’s biggest TV shows, including Fleabag and Normal People, the channel’s popularity hasn’t wavered since leaving the airwaves and earlier this year, the network announced plans to bring BBC Three back at the beginning of 2022. However, Ofcom may have just thrown a spanner in the works.

Back in March 2021, Chief Content Officer at the BBC, Charlotte Moore, confirmed the network was reinstating BBC Three to television.

“The BBC needs to back success and make sure its programmes reach as many young people as possible, wherever they live in the UK,” she said in a statement.

“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 hopes were to have BBC Three up and running by January 2022, almost six years after it was taken off air.

However, Ofcom has now decided to launch a competition review into the revival of the channel.

According to Deadline, the broadcasting regulator had said a “number of concerns were raised” in the initial assessments of BBC Three’s plans.

As a result, a full review will now go ahead which is reported to take up to six months to complete.

This means the channel could be put on hold until the review is complete six months from now, threatening the January 2022 launch date.

The BBC remains optimistic, however, as it has released its own statement in response to the review.

It reads [via Deadline]: “We do not anticipate any delays and we continue to plan for a January 2022 launch.”

With Ofcom’s review about to begin, fans of the channel will have to watch this space to see just how long it will last.

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There could be some encouraging signs that a delay may not come to fruition, however, as Ofcom’s group director Kevin Bakhurst told the publication he hopes the review won’t take six months.

Following the news, several BBC Three viewers took to Twitter to express their thoughts on the possible delay.

“According to the BBC this is standard procedure, it’s completely expected that this would happen,” one fan explained on Twitter.

Another suggested: “They could relaunch BBC Four before BBC Three gets on the air just like the old days.”

A third also tried to allay concerns, echoing: “According to the BBC’s press release, it is a standard procedure and they are going ahead with the launch of BBC Three in January 2022 without further delays.”

Another weighed in: “Didn’t complain when they decided to take it off TV. It will be more home grown programming than before with few if any imports. That’s a good thing. “

While a fifth added: “The BBC Three news makes me a bit sad I’m not in that age catchment anymore. 

“Shame we couldn’t have an equivalent for 40 year olds. Or at least 40 year olds that aren’t into panel shows, DIY and cooking.”

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