BBC Three has seen huge success in the past few years (Picture: BBC)
The relaunch of BBC Three could be delayed over Ofcom’s new competition assessment.
The broadcaster is aiming to relaunch the channel, which was taken off air in 2016, in January 2022.
However, Ofcom has revealed that the relaunch requires ‘further scrutiny’.
The regulator said in a statement: ‘Ofcom is today launching a full competition assessment into the BBC’s proposal to launch BBC Three as a television channel.
‘Our 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.
‘Our initial assessment of the proposed BBC Three television channel has concluded that its relaunch would constitute a material change to the BBC’s UK public service activities. Given the change also raises a number of potential competition issues, impacting several parties, we consider a full BBC Competition Assessment (BCA) is necessary to allow further scrutiny of its plans.
‘We must complete our competition assessment within six months. During this period, we will conduct a detailed analysis of the BBC’s proposal and consult on a provisional decision as to whether the BBC may proceed with the relaunch.’
The BBC is aiming for a January 2022 relaunch (Picture: BBC)
Metro.co.uk understands that BBC Three could still launch on time, dependent on the outcome of the assessment.
The BBC announced its plans to relaunch the channel in March this year, following successes like Normal People, Killing Eve, and Rupaul’s Drag Race UK.
‘We believe in backing success and, having committed to double the investment on BBC Three commissions over the next two years, we want to showcase that content to a wider audience,’ a spokesperson said.
‘Using both a broadcast channel and BBC iPlayer in tandem will help to grow our offer and deliver more value to younger audiences.’
BBC Three ceased operations in 2016 and was replaced by an online-only version available via the iPlayer.
What is Ofcom and what does it cover?
Ofcom is the regulator for the communications services that we use and rely on each day.
The watchdog makes sure people get the best from their broadband, home phone and mobile services, as well as keeping an eye on TV and radio.
Ofcom deals with most content on television, radio and video-on-demand services, including the BBC. However, if your complaint is about something you saw or heard in a BBC programme, you may need to complain to the BBC first.
Its rules for television and radio programmes are set out in the Broadcasting Code.
The rules in the Broadcasting Code also apply to the BBC iPlayer.
This Broadcasting Code is the rule book that broadcasters have to follow and it covers a number of areas, including; protecting the under-18s, protecting audiences from harmful and/or offensive material and ensuring that news, in whatever form, is reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality.
Audiences can complain to Ofcom if they believe a breach of the Broadcasting Code has been made.
Every time Ofcom receives a complaint from a viewer or listener, they assess it to see if it needs further investigation.
If Ofcom decide to investigate, they will include the case in a list of new investigations, published in the Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin.
An investigation is a formal process which can take some time depending on the complexity of the issues involved.
Ofcom can also launch investigations in the absence of a complaint from a viewer or listener.