BBC Three announced in March that it plans to relaunch BBC Three as a linear TV channel in January 2022.
However, a few months ago, UK broadcast regulator Ofcom announced they were launching a full competition assessment into the BBC’s proposal to launch BBC Three as a television channel 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 broadcasters.
Ofcom have now concluded their assessment. They say: "We agree with the BBC that there is personal and social public value associated with the proposals. If the BBC can achieve the aims of the proposal of providing underserved younger audiences with a deeper engagement with BBC content, we consider that it could have significant short and longer-term benefits. However, as we have explained, we expect the BBC to set out more detail in its Annual Plan as to how the delivery of this public value would be ensured."
"We consider the market impact of the proposed changes to be unlikely to have a significant adverse impact on fair and effective competition. We anticipate some loss in viewing for commercial broadcasters which could translate into a loss in advertising revenues. However, as discussed in Section 5 this loss is relatively small compared to total advertising revenues. The impact is largest for ITV and Channel 4, each of which might lose at most 0.8% and 0.9% of their advertising revenues. "
"Given the relatively small overall effect on the revenues of commercial TV broadcasters, we do not consider the BBC’s proposal by itself is likely to have an impact on the viability of commercial TV services, significantly affect the incentives of commercial broadcasters to invest and innovate or impact on the choice of services offered to consumers."
"Overall, we have provisionally concluded that the additional public value created by the proposals justifies the limited adverse impact on fair and effective competition."
Generally speaking, this conclusion means that BBC Three's linear TV return is all but certain to happen in the New Year.