Tessa Jowell, Britain’s secretary of state for culture, media and sport, has at last given the British Broadcasting Corporation permission to launch its youth-oriented digital station BBC3, but has attached what she calls “the toughest set of conditions ever issued … to a TV channel.”

Just over a year ago, Jowell rejected plans for BBC3, delighting rival broadcasters and shocking executives at the publicly funded corporation. The minister argued that the channel was too similar to commercial rivals [WAMN: 14-Sep-01].

The BBC’s revised proposals have now been accepted on condition that the channel delivers a “mixed schedule of programmes, embracing drama, entertainment, news, current affairs, education, music, the arts, science and including coverage of international issues.”

Such wholesome fare must be given a fixed amount of airtime. In addition, 80% of the channel’s programming must be specially commissioned.

“I am determined BBC3 should be a distinctive public service channel that is not competing with what is already out there in a vigorous marketplace,” declared Jowell. “The channel will be reviewed after two years to ensure this is the case.”

BBC3 will replace existing digital channel BBC Choice and will be allocated a budget in the region of £100 million ($153m; €159m).

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff