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BBC Three to return as TV channel next year in steps to widen younger audiences

Written by on 3 March 2021

BBC Three will return as a TV channel in 2022, the corporation has said.

After ceasing operations in 2016, the TV channel was replaced with an online-only version, available on iPlayer.

The BBC said it will aim to double investments on BBC Three commissions over the next two years following the success of shows such as Normal People, Rupaul’s Drag Race and Fleabag.

From January next year, it is expected to start re-broadcasting between 7pm and 4am each day, and will be targeted at audiences aged 16-34.

As a result, CBBC programmes will finish at 7pm.

The announcement comes after the BBC 2020/21 annual plan indicated there remains an audience for broadcast television on BBC Three.

Charlotte Moore, chief content officer at the BBC, said the channel has been a success story, backing “creativity, new talent, and brave ideas”.

She added: “It has exciting, groundbreaking content that deserves the widest possible audience and using iPlayer alongside a broadcast channel will deliver the most value.”

The corporation is aiming for at least two thirds of the programme spend to be outside of London.

As a channel, BBC Three was best known for hit shows such as Gavin and Stacey, and won various accolades including BAFTAS and RTS awards.

In March 2014, the BBC announced it was planning to move the channel online, with reports saying it would save around £30m.

The news led to a protest outside the BBC Broadcasting House.

More than 300,000 people signed a petition on to save the channel, while celebrities such as Daniel Radcliffe, Aidan Turner, Lena Headey, Olivia Colman and Richard E Grant all signed a letter.