CBBC to extend broadcast hours to 9pm following BBC3 closure – but there will be no BBC1+1

The children’s channel can use the broadcast spectrum vacated by the soon-to-be-defunct BBC3 - but the BBC Trust rejected plans for a new BBC1 catch-up service

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Young audiences may be smarting at the closure of BBC3 but there is at least some good news for the very young – they will be getting two more hours of CBBC.

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The closure of BBC3 will free up broadcast spectrum for CBBC which means that the channel’s hours are to be extended from 7pm to 9pm when BBC3 closes in March.

The Trust approved plans to extend the hours for CBBC which it said would help to stem its decline in viewership. Between 2010 and 2014 the average daily viewing minutes dropped from 10.9 to 7.1 among viewers aged 6 to 12.

“It remains one of the most watched children’s channels in the UK although performance is under pressure,” the Trust reported today.

The regulatory body said that the increase in hours was “limited to some degree” by a lack of new investment in CBBC but said that the extension would offer greater choice to young viewers “at a time when children are more likely to watch.”

In the same report the Trust rejected the BBC’s proposal to replace the channel space of BBC3 with a BBC+1 catch-up service, as it had indicated it would in its provisional report on the proposal.

The Trust reported today that the proposal to establish BBC1+1 was “at odds with a broader shift” to online viewing and would have an “adverse market impact on commercial channels”.

Another reason was that 24% of UK television households would need to upgrade their equipment in order to receive the +1 channel.

Last summer, the governing body issued a provisional rejection of the proposal by BBC management to launch the service to replace the space on the Electronic Programme Guide [EPG] left by BBC3. 

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The BBC1+1 catch up service was seen by BBC management as a crucial means of shoring up the viewing numbers and share of BBC1. Director general Tony Hall announced the plans in October 2013, describing the service as designed to “give people more of what they’ve already paid for”.