BBC Three to Return as a Channel in February

BBC Three, the digital platform that’s been the home of “Fleabag” and “Normal People,” is returning as a broadcast channel.

British media regulator Ofcom on Thursday officially approved the channel, making clear that it was on the basis that at least 75% of hours broadcast each year will be original programs that are commissioned by the BBC for U.K. viewers.

The corporation officially confirmed a February launch for BBC Three, which will be available on Freeview, Sky, Virgin and Freesat with EPG numbers to be confirmed at a later date.

Commenting on the decision, Fiona Campbell, controller for BBC Three, said: “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 U.K. 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 U.K.”

Elsewhere, the BBC and Pact have agreed a new Terms of Trade deal for television productions made by independent producers — a crucial development in rights negotiations between BBC Three and program suppliers who were once making shows for a digital platform, and will now be producing for a broadcast channel.

Key terms are below:

  • Under the deal, for BBC Three commissions, the BBC will have a two-year window on its catch-up platform iPlayer as well as unlimited transmissions on the BBC Three broadcast channel during the first 18 months.
  • The BBC also has a further 18 transmission days on BBC Three for the remaining 3.5 years of licence included within the initial program payment to independent producers. For transmissions on other BBC channels, repeats can be purchased separately under existing terms.
  • For iPlayer use beyond the two years, a payment of 1% for non-exclusivity and 2% for exclusivity is required for each 12-month extension, and each time the BBC acquires an additional iPlayer window, the initial licence term reduces by six months (but can be extended).

The BBC said the new deal will provide “more value to audiences, ensures a clear framework for producers and provides the BBC with flexibility to have programmes available to watch on both BBC Three and iPlayer.”

BBC’s commercial, rights and business affairs director Jo Korn said: “This new deal is great news for both the BBC and independent producers, and we are really pleased to have concluded this in good time for launch. It provides the channel with the flexibility to ensure its programs deliver real value to audiences however they wish to view the content, as well as recognition of success for producers.

Pact’s director of business affairs Max Rumney added: “Our members are pleased to see the return of the linear channel and the opportunities this will bring for producers to showcase the brilliant creativity of the U.K. independent production sector. It is a great example of Pact and the BBC working together to deliver a positive result for everyone.”