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What would you like to see on Freeview in place of BBC three?

The BBC seems set to move BBC Three onto the BBC iPlayer. What should the BBC do with the channel's precious broadcast bits and top-page Freeview slot 7?

High up (low number) programme guide numbers are valuable - but not if you cannot sell them?   Photograph: Shutterstock
High up (low number) programme guide numbers are valuable - but not if you cannot sell them? Photograph: Shutterstock
published on UK Free TV

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?

There is a problem: on Freeview the BBCA (or PSB1 or Multiplex 1) licence was gifted to the BBC by the Broadcasting Act, but it specifically forbids the BBC from using for non-BBC output.

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.


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.  

This is unless the BBC can convince DMOL that it can pass it to Dave on 12, and then shuffle the UKTV channels (Really, Yesterday and Drama) along a bit.

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?

Any ideas?  

Remember the BBC can't sell the space to anyone else.

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Sunday, 4 October 2015

11:28 AM

James L: That's not right, it was BBC Parliament that was off-air during the Olympics that made the capacity required to run BBC Three during the day. This wasn't a problem as Parliament was in recess.

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Briantist's 38,915 posts US flag
Brian Wright

10:00 PM

Brian Wright:

We are trying to save the BBC ,(I hope) because the licence fee cannot support Four channels even if BBC 3 & 4 are not 24/7.
Surely it would be much better to keep BBC 1 & 2 as the main stay of programmes and to use BBC 3 to support the more minority programmes as BBC2 was introduced to do many years ago. The money saved by the removal of BBC4 could be used in part to bring back the excellent sports coverage we previously enjoyed over the years.?

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Brian Wright's 77 posts GB flag
Brian's: mapB's Freeview map terrainB's terrain plot wavesB's frequency data B's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Monday, 5 October 2015

5:52 PM

Brian Wright: I totally agree with you about saving the BBC (and BBC3 is doing some excellent documentaries at the the moment), but alas, sacrificing BBC4 will not help get extra sports coverage.

Not only is BBC4 popular amoungst the sort of people who write to the Times and their MP, but its budget simply isn't enough to cope with the ever higher costs of sporting events.

BT bid £320m per season to show 42 live matches, with them paying £960m for the next three years. Sky bid £4.2bn for their packages, which means £1.392bn per season. The BBC's total budget is roughtly £3.6bn a year. So if they had simply bid for the same rights as BT (and any extra competition would probably have pushed the price further up), they would have spent about 8.5% of their total years budget for less than one live match a week.

And its not just football. The number of sporting events restricted from just being available on subscription TV (the Crown Jewels) has shrunk in recent years. The Open (golf) will go to Sky for 5 years from 2015 (costing £75m). The BBC just get the highlights. International Cricket has also gone, which includes The Ashes.…els/

From 2022 the BBC will lose the rights to the Olympics, which go to Discovery/Eurosport. BBC Loses Olympic Games TV Rights From 2022

To be honest, I'm not a sports fan - in fact far from it, but I realise lots of other people are. However, the BBC has simply been priced out of the market. I suspect much the same will happen to the other terrestial broadcasters as well. The strange thing is that in the US market, broadcasters are starting to ask themselves that the huge sums paid for sports rights actually translate into decent viewership/profits.

In reality, the cost of sports is eyewatering, and the BBC can only do what it can - its not its fault, its just the way it is.

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB flag
MikeB's: mapM's Freeview map terrainM's terrain plot wavesM's frequency data M's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Monday, 12 October 2015
Brian Wright

10:38 AM

Brian Wright:
MIKE SAID,To be honest, I'm not a sports fan - in fact far from it, but I realise lots of other people are. However, the BBC has simply been priced out of the market.

Below is the result of the BBC carrying out a survey on various households and viewers who had stated, their for or against the BBC's licence fee and their comments after having all BBC programs cut off for a period of 9 DAY's. It does make INTERESTING READING.THIS WAS REPRINTED IN THE BBC's Prospero retired staff magazine. .

commissions `deprivation study'
More than two-thirds of those originally opposed to paying the £145.50 licence fee changed their minds after being cut off from BBC services for a nine-day period, according to a study commissioned by the Corporation. Seventy families across the country agreed to have their access to the BBC's television, radio and online services suspended, as part of a 'deprivation study' designed to test the reactions of those who said they would prefer not to pay the licence fee. Of the 70 households, 48 had initially said that they would prefer either to pay no licence fee and have no BBC access, or pay a reduced licence fee. After nine days without any access to the corporation, however, 33 of the 48 families, or 69 per cent, declared that they were now happy to pay. Mike O'Donnell, a retired sales manager, and his wife, Pat, were among the families who were initially opposed to paying for the BBC. 'I just thought the licence fee was another tax, and not good value for money,' said Mr O'Donnell, who admits to being a fan of EastEnders and 5 Live. `But being without the BBC was absolutely dreadful, just awful. I just didn't realised how much we watched it' Many of those who took part in the trial said that they became frustrated by having to watch adverts on commercial TV channels, and the O'Donnells were no different. 'The adverts just drove me nuts,' said Mr O'Donnell. 'I lost track of what I was watching.' A perceived lack of quality from the BBC's rivals was also a common complaint. Mr O'Donnell said: 'The weather on ITV is Mickey Mouse.You can tell that the person who's reading it doesn't understand it.
Whereas when you watch it on the BBC they clearly know what they're talking about and put the script together from the research they've done. It's quite a profound difference. I now think the BBC is incredibly good value. I'd probably willingly pay even more. I'm actually quite a good ambassador for the BBC now.' The BBC commissioned the study to dig deeper into existing research that suggests that around 30 per cent of people are opposed to paying the licence fee. It would appear to confirm suspicions held at a high level in the Corporation that many viewers do not realise how much they depend on the broadcaster's output. Sonia, a local government worker in Bristol, who did not want to give her surname, was a case in point. Before the study she was opposed to paying the licence fee and said she 'found it hard to imagine what as a family the BBC gave us that we can't get anywhere else'. After nine days without the BBC, she had changed her mind. 'It was shocking in that we realised how much we did watch BBC programmes,' she said. 'I think we just took it for granted' A further 22 of the 70 households had initially said that they were happy paying the licence fee. After the study, 21 said that their views were unchanged. At the conclusion of the experiment, families were given £3.60, a rebate for the nine days of BBC access they had foregone. For many, that was a watershed moment. `That's what, £12 a month,' said one unnamed participant, who was initially against the licence fee. 'And we pay £70-odd a month for Sky. That's a bit of a shock to be honest.' You can read further details of the report in the Radio Times magazine (25 August).

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Brian Wright's 77 posts GB flag
Brian's: mapB's Freeview map terrainB's terrain plot wavesB's frequency data B's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Monday, 14 December 2015
Nick Anderson

10:40 AM

The obvious use for the soon to be redundant BBC Channel 8 would be a BBC Gold channel featuring those programs for which they do not have to pay a huge repeat fee, namely in house productions which would be a considerable saving on the present cost of BBC3 and affordable to the Corporation.

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Nick Anderson's 161 posts GB flag
Sunday, 20 December 2015

6:43 AM

Having only Freeview and owning a net tv, I, like many others are short on High Definition channels. As I live under the Mendip transmitter umbrella I would love to see Film 4 on the forthcoming vacant BBC3 HD slot. I see that at the present Film 4 is only showing in HD on Virgin I believe.

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Richard's 30 posts GB flag
Saturday, 16 January 2016
1:55 PM

Local TV should be put on programme number 7.

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Michael's 7 posts GB flag
Wednesday, 22 March 2017
Robert McMillan

4:51 PM

They should scrap the intended NEW Scottish channel that the BBC plan and invest in something more
Intune with the population.
Things like Japanese animations, foreign films and reruns of older comedies are both underrepresented
and horizon expanding.
But we will probably get more effing political programming and cookery shows like what they have planned for this new Scottish channel.
Not happy!

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Robert McMillan's 76 posts GB flag
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