Drag Race UK’s big move to primetime TV hits frustrating stumbling block

Patrick Kelleher July 21, 2021
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RuPaul Drag Race UK

RuPaul. (BBC/World of Wonder)

RuPaul’s Drag Race UK‘s much-hyped move to primetime television could be delayed after Ofcom said BBC Three’s relaunch requires “further scrutiny”.

The UK spin-off of the popular drag contest has proven hugely successful for BBC Three, which has been an online-only channel since 2016.

In March, the BBC announced that Drag Race UKFleabag and Normal People had proven so popular that they were planning to relaunch BBC Three as a linear broadcast TV channel in January 2022.

However, communications regulator Ofcom has now launched a “full competition assessment” on the decision, meaning Drag Race UK could continue as an online-only venture for the foreseeable future.

“Ofcom is today launching a full competition assessment into the BBC’s proposal to launch BBC Three as a television channel,” the regulator said in a statement.

“Our job, as required by the Charter and Agreement, is to ensure that any change the BBC wishes to make to its publicly funded TV, radio and online services does not give it an unfair advantage over rival broadcasters.”

Drag Race UK helped BBC Three become a ‘success story’

“Our initial assessment of the proposed BBC Three television channel has concluded that its relaunch would constitute a material change to the BBC’s UK public service activities.

“Given the change also raises a number of potential competition issues, impacting several parties, we consider a full BBC Competition Assessment (BCA) is necessary to allow further scrutiny of its plans.”

The regulator went on to promise that the assessment should be completed within six months.

“During this period, we will conduct a detailed analysis of the BBC’s proposal and consult on a provisional decision as to whether the BBC may proceed with the relaunch.”

The BBC has said the assessment is “standard process”. It is still planning to relaunch BBC Three in January 2022.

In a statement released in March, Charlotte Moore, chief content officer with the BBC, said BBC Three had become a “success story”.

“The BBC needs to back success and make sure its programmes reach as many young people as possible wherever they live in the UK,” Moore said.

“So regardless of the debates about the past, we want to give BBC Three its own broadcast channel again.”

Related topics: BBC, BBC Three, Drag Race UK, Ofcom, RuPaul's Drag Race

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