Perhaps the biggest story missed in the past week is that the regulator Ofcom have given approval for BBC Three to return to our screens. The part-time channel with return to terrestrial platform Freeview, cable platform Virgin Media, and satellite platforms Sky and Freesat. The channel had closed in traditional form in February 2016, with programming moved to the BBC iPlayer.
Sadly, as the previous channel numbers have been re-allocated to other services, BBC Three will have different channel numbers on each of the platforms, but platform operators are required by Ofcom to give BBC Three a prominent channel number. This means that BBC Three will appear near the top of electronic programme guides (EPGs), but channel numbers are yet to confirmed.
Platforms operators have 18 months to accommodate this, meaning that BBC Three may initially appear with a temporary channel number. On Sky, Virgin Media, and Freesat, it is expected that a channel number will be made available by the launch of full regionalisation of BBC One HD (high definition). This will allow BBC One HD to take the top spot on the EPG, allowing the standard definition to drop down to a less prominent number, thus freeing up a slot for BBC Three.
On Freeview, it is expected that all channels from 25 onwards will be moved down 1 number to accommodate BBC Three, except Dave Ja Vu (+1 version of Dave) which will move from 23 to 25. This will allow BBC Three to occupy channel number 23. In Scotland, BBC Four occupies channel 24, with that number left unused in other parts of the UK.
It is expected that BBC Three will make its return some point during February 2022, only a few weeks after the initial planned return month of January, despite the lengthy consulation. Satellite re-configurations have already been made to accommodate the channel. As the channel will share bandwidth with CBBC, the latter channel will revert back to a 7pm finish time, from 9pm.