The channel was launched by Stuart Murphy, who previously ran BBC Choice, and before that UK Play, the now-discontinued UKTV music and comedy channel.
At 33, Murphy was still the youngest channel controller in the country, a title he had held since launching UK Play at the age of 26; although on 20 October 2005 it was announced that Murphy was soon to leave the channel to work in commercial television.
Launched on 9 February 2003 as a replacement for BBC Choice, the service's remit was to provide "innovative programming" to a target audience of viewers between 16 and 34 years old, leveraging technology as well as new talent.
Unlike its commercial rivals, 90% of BBC Three's output originated from the United Kingdom.
The Trust also approved related proposals to allow first-run and third-party content on i Player, as well as extend CBBC's broadcast day to p.m.
The BBC One timeshift service was rejected, citing "limited public value".
Jimmy Mulville and Jon Thoday of independent production companies Hat Trick Productions and Avalon reportedly considered legal action against the Trust if it went ahead with the closure of the channel.
BBC Three signed off during the early morning of 16 February 2016.
An example of BBC Three's comedy output includes the award-winning comedy Little Britain, which in October 2004 broke its previous viewing record when 1.8 million viewers tuned in for a new series.However, questions were raised over the proposed format of the new BBC Three, as some thought the new format would be too similar to the BBC's commercial rivals, namely ITV2 and E4, and would be unnecessary competition.