The oft-postponed launch of the BBC’s controversial youth channel BBC3 is now set for Sunday February 9 2003, it was announced Tuesday.

Following an orchestrated howl of complaint at alleged “unfair competition” by Britain's commercial TV lobby, culture media and sport secretary Tessa Jowell overruled the state-owned broadcaster’s original proposals for the digital channel. It was feared these would prove too popular.

The commercial companies were concerned that the BBC newcomer would erode their hold on the immensely profitable 16-34 TV advertising sector, with broadcasters such as Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB advancing the novel argument that a new competitor would be anti-competitive.

BBC3’s launch date, said the channel’s controller Stuart Murphy yesterday, had been set for a Sunday because the Sabbath had proved to be “a key night for our audience”. Continued Murphy: “This is only three months away and there is a lot to do on finalising the schedule for the channel.”

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff