BBC Three announces launch date for its return to TV screens

The relaunch will include new 'RuPaul' content and AFCON matches

BBC Three has confirmed a launch date for its long-awaited return to TV screens.

The channel was taken off the airwaves in 2016, moving online in a bid to attract a younger audience with shows including the Sally Rooney adaptation Normal People.

Starting next month, BBC Three will be broadcast from 7pm GMT every night on Freeview, Sky, Virgin and Freesat, as well as BBC iPlayer.

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Daisy Edgar Jones (Marianne) and Paul Mescal (Connell) in Normal People (Picture: Element Pictures/Enda Bowe)

The channel’s return will be celebrated with the launch of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Versus The World. During the same week, BBC Three will host live football coverage of the semi-finals and the final cup of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

“We know how popular sport is with younger audiences and it’s going to have a big part to play on BBC Three,” channel Controller Fiona Campbell said in a statement.

“‘AFCON is set to be an incredibly exciting tournament with some of the best players in the World on show and it’s brilliant news that we will be showing the climax of the competition on free to air television.”

Media regulator Ofcom investigated the potential impact of the channel’s return last year, after rivals raised concern it could take away viewers from other youth-focused broadcasters like Channel 4.

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In a statement, Ofcom said last year: “Our job 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.

“Having conducted a detailed analysis of the BBC’s proposal, we have provisionally concluded that the public value of BBC Three returning as a broadcast channel justifies the limited adverse market impact.”

BBC Three will return to TV on February 1.

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