What would you like to see on Freeview in place of BBC three?
I have covered the whole should-they-shouldn't-they of taking BBC Three online several times, but now it looks like the BBC is going ahead with abandoning the brand as a TV station, what is going to happen to the old assets?
BBC Three has always shared it's bandwidth with the CBBC channel. The kids channel closes just before 7pm, with BBC three getting going on the hour. During the day on Freeview the number 120 maps onto the "slot" and in the evening it's the number 7 (it's 613/617 and 115/147 on Sky/Freesat).
The BBC are going to extend CBBC until 8pm, and there was a proposal to use the 8pm-4am for a plus one for BBC One (as this would avoid all the regional programming at 6:30pm). This idea was met with horror by ITV (owners of ITV+1, ITV2+1, ITV3+1 and ITV4+1) who saw it – quite rightly - as a land grab during peak time.
Looking a gift horse in the mouth?
This isn't a problem for the Freeview BBCB (aka PSB3 aka Multiplex B) as the BBC won this in an open auction, not is a problem for the satellite capacity that the BBC rents directly from Astra of Luxembourg.
A problem, however, for the BBC is that multiplex B is broadcast to 27.8m homes but in a format that only Freeview HD boxes can use. This means that the price is high (due to needing to be sent out from 1,190 masts) but can only be seen by a small proportion.
This compares to the COM multiplexes that only cover 19.8m homes, but can be seen by all of them. Not the most enticing proposition.
BBC FOUR HD?
It seems quite likely that BBC FOUR HD will move from the "extra" multiplex that is broadcast from just 30 sites (to 16m homes, perhaps) to BBCB so more people can watch it. This will leave the "cheap slots" on Arqiva's com7 and com8 for more commercial channels.
Rules is the rules
The DMOL rules for channel number on Freeview suggests that BBC FOUR will move up to slot 7 and the BBC will have to abandon slot 9. This means the next lucky channel to start up will be able to get it.
So, what to do with the 8pm-4am slot on Mux 1?
There are other possibilities. The BBC could move the Red Button stream to channel 9 and using the capacity only after 8pm, perhaps?
Remember the BBC can't sell the space to anyone else.
Dunworking: Much as I'd like all sport to be corralled off, so I dont have to ever see it, there are real problems with a sports only channel for the BBC.
Firstly, for lots of people (not me), 'normal viewing' does include sport.
Unless there is constant sport, that channel is going to have a lot of dead time, and since the BBC really cannot afford much in the way of sports coverage these days, whats it going to fill it with? Its the reason why 5 Live and Talksport dont just do sport. Sky can, but they are richer than God.
And sports dont come on consistantly. During Wimbledon Fortnight, great, especially if its a World Cup/Olympic Year - they will hardly be able to keep up. Other times its going to be whats happening in the Barsetshire Egg and Spoon race, because thats pretty much it. How are you going to fill the rest of the time?
Since BBC3 shares with CBBC, the slot is from 7pm until 6am. OK for football in the winter on a weekday. Weekend viewing - not going to happen. Wimbwldon diring the day - ditto. And the same goes for events outside that slot worldwide. Rio is 4 hours behind the UK, which might work if a race starts 3pm local time. On the other hand, the Winter Olympics might not work at all.
Best idea. Pretty much as it is now. BBC2 handles the day to day stuff like Wimbledeon, special stuff on 1, and overflow to BBC3 after 9pm (CBBC is being extended). Or stop sport all together....
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