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BBC One+1: the proposals explained

BBC Director General Tony Hall first announced BBC One+1 in 2013.
As the BBC plans to launch BBC One+1, there's been some confusion over the proposed new timeshift service.

Contrary to earlier reports, BBC One+1 is not taking the space freed up by BBC Three. Rather the service is proposed to broadcast 24 hours a day. The BBC management confirmed they had looked at making BBC One+1 a peak time service, but decided against it.

An HD version is not proposed, meaning viewers would no longer have the chance to catch up on EastEnders, The Voice, Doctor Who or Sherlock in HD as they do now via BBC Three HD.

Here's how it will work, according to the proposals:

At the moment, BBC Three and CBBC timeshare a slot. The stream switches just before 7pm and back again at 5:30am:

BBC Three
BBC Three
From Autumn 2015, the BBC wants to extend CBBC until 9pm. But it wants to make BBC One+1 a 24 hour channel. This means two slots have to be available. CBBC takes one slot until 9pm, while BBC One+1 uses a 24 hour slot elsewhere:



BBC One+1 SD

As can been seen, once BBC Three is gone, there is an empty slot during CBBC's downtime from 9pm to 5:30am (although in practice because CBBC doesn't start until 7am, there's another 1 1/2 hours with no programmes).

On the BBC's main Freeview multiplex (called BBC-A or PSB1), there's not enough room for the extra BBC One+1 service.

As a result, the proposals for BBC One+1 state it will have to launch on the BBC's second Freeview multiplex (called BBC-B or PSB3), which is set up for HD channels. It's because of this that even though BBC One+1 will in be in standard definition only, it will require a Freeview HD or YouView compatible device to decode the signal. Less than half of UK households have Freeview HD on their main TV, although this will gradually increase in time.

So many viewers with Freeview will find that, if the proposals get the BBC Trust's green light, they won't be able to watch BBC One+1 when it launches, although the BBC has indicated that this could change in 2017 when it may become technically possible to make BBC One+1 available to all on Freeview.

This is a breakdown of the BBC's second multiplex, known as BBC-B or PSB3 (as it is referred to in the BBC's proposals).



(Central/North Scotland: STV HD;
Northern Ireland: UTV HD)

Channel 4 HD


Film4+1 (SD)
BBC One+1 (SD  – proposed)
Currently spare capacity
Once again, the removal of BBC Three HD leaves an empty slot when CBBC HD is not on air. There is currently other spare capacity on this multiplex; there's no news on what the BBC intends to do with this capacity.

On satellite, both the CBBC SD and HD streams would potentially be unused during its downtime.

The BBC says in its proposals that it is investigating possible uses for spare capacity. It has even considered another timeshift channel.

The proposals say: "BBC Management is considering a range of options around any unutilised capacity following the closure of BBC Three and a potential extension of CBBC hours– these include thinking about potential future channel portfolio strategies (e.g. launching a new service such as another BBC time shift channel) and potentially commercialising any spare unused capacity."

Confusingly, the proposals also say in the following paragraph: "Selling the capacity used for BBC Three was also discounted on the grounds that the commercial returns from selling were considered to be quite low given the current market price of DTT capacity."

So the BBC discounted selling the evening and overnight capacity used by BBC Three, because of the low current market price of DTT (Freeview) capacity, but is still considering 'commercialising' any spare capacity.

Will these proposals save money?
It appears unlikely that any significant savings will be made when it comes to distribution costs. The creation of BBC One+1 as BBC Three goes online only means that the BBC will still have to pay to list the same number of services on digital TV platforms. It does not appear that much money can be earned by selling BBC Three's capacity due to low market prices. The launch of another BBC timeshift channel creates the potential for the changes to cost more to the licence fee payer.

Because BBC One+1 and CBBC will not share a stream, an extra slot has to be used. On Freeview, the slot proposed for BBC One+1 could have been offered to another services, raising more money for the BBC.

Although the full future plans for BBC services on Freeview are not in the public domain, some reason that instead of filling the HD multiplex with standard definition services, the capacity should be used to bring BBC Four HD, CBeebies HD and BBC News HD over to a frequency that reaches 98.5% of UK households, facilitated by encoder improvements, which allow more channels to be multiplexed together.

Currently, these HD channels only reach around 70% of UK households as they are broadcast on a Freeview multiplex operated by Arqiva using temporarily available frequencies. Moving these channels over as it becomes technically possible to do so, would reduce the costs of paying Arqiva to distribute these channels on their multiplex - some say the BBC might as well do that if they can't 'commercialise' their own capacity -  but the terms and timescales of the commercial carriage deal between the BBC and Arqiva are not public.

The BBC will also need to ensure that it has sufficient rights to show all programmes an hour later - or it will have to adopt a process that's been used on commercial channels, by broadcasting a "programme not available on +1" slate. Broadcast rights present an additional expense.

Crucially, full details about the costs for BBC One+1 are redacted from the public copies of the BBC Management proposals.

When would these changes occur?
In Autumn 2015, subject to the BBC Trust (currently consulting over the proposals) giving the green light. 

Are there any plans to launch BBC One+1 in HD in Autumn 2015?

Will BBC One+1 carry regional programmes or programmes for Scotland/Wales/Northern Ireland?

No. BBC One+1 is proposed to be a UK wide service. The proposals state that the BBC News Channel will be shown during regional slots.

Where would BBC One+1 appear in the channel line-up?
This has not been revealed. It is possible that the BBC will try to launch BBC One+1 using BBC Three's old primary channel number on most digital TV platforms (although the BBC Executive do say that BBC One+1 will launch lower down the Freeview EPG than BBC Three). The loss of BBC Three HD will create vacant channel numbers, available to other broadcasters - for example Freeview HD channel 105 - unless other BBC services are shuffled up to fill the gap - but that would create further spaces.

Importantly, if you only have standard definition Freeview (i.e. you don't see any services on Freeview channels 101-111), you won't see BBC One+1 at all due to the proposed method of transmission.

Updated: 16/02/2015


  1. The more it's explained the less logical it is. Absolutely ridiculous that to save money they plan to launch a new stream and turn off two streams every night in favour of dead air.

  2. How will this save Money, they're still making programs for BBC Three online. why do they need BBC One+1?? in incase you missed Bargain Hunt as it's only on 24/7 as it is