Insights Ofcom publishes invitation to comment on its review of proposed BBC Three television channel


Ofcom is seeking views from interested or affected parties to inform its initial assessment of the BBC’s proposal to launch BBC Three as a television channel.

Ofcom’s job, as required by the Charter and Agreement, is to ensure that any change the BBC wishes to make to its publicly funded TV, radio and online services does not give it an unfair advantage over rival broadcasters. To do this, Ofcom needs to judge whether the public value of a proposed change justifies any adverse effects on fair and effective competition.

The BBC Board considered that the proposed BBC Three television channel, which it intends to relaunch in January 2022, would be a “material change” to its UK public services. It therefore conducted a Public Interest Test (PIT) and has published its findings. In concluding that the new channel will contribute to the BBC’s fulfilment of its mission and public purposes, and deliver public value to justify any competitive impacts, the BBC Board considered the PIT criteria satisfied.

Ofcom says that it is minded to agree that the launch of the BBC Three television channel constitutes a material change to the BBC’s UK public services. Given the potential competition issues raised by respondents to the BBC’s PIT consultation, it is proposing to further scrutinise the BBC’s plans through a full, detailed competition assessment that will give interested parties a further opportunity to comment.

To help inform its decision on how to proceed, Ofcom is giving interested parties an opportunity to comment on how the launch of BBC Three could affect them. Taking account of this feedback, Ofcom will conclude this initial phase of its assessment within six weeks and announce the next steps at that point.

The invitation to comment closes on 8 July 2021. To access the invitation, click here.