BBC News of course has its own take on the matter. The Guardian, however, manages to flesh out the BBC's press release and reveals that neither BBC Acquisitions nor FOX Television came out in a good light. Despite the fact that viewing figures in the US for season three have dropped compared to the figures enjoyed by the previous decision, FOX remained convinced that the television rights to the third series were worth more than what the BBC was offering for it. Another issue during negotiations was with regards to when the BBC intended on scheduling the third series, although why FOX should have any say on that is unclear. In short, because both broadcasters are useless, FOX is now free to approach alternative UK broadcasters.
This a huge blow to the UK fans of 24, and not only because we've been used to advertisement-free episodes of 24 for the past two series. (In its role as a public service broadcaster, the BBC is strictly prohibited from screening commercial advertisements except for those advertising its own services; not that it stops them from relentlessly buffering shows with endless programme trails and such, but at least it ensures that the programmes themselves are broadcast uninterrupted.) In the past I've frequently complained about how Channels 4 and five mistreat their US imports, and past history does not inspire confidence in me that they would treat 24 any better in their efforts to win ratings.
I rarely mention the UK's third TV channel, ITV, because I hardly ever have occasion to watch it. Hell, I can't even remember the last time I watched the channel on a regular basis, because aside from some of the films it shows its programming has been so unequivocally dire for so long. If you consider that this is the channel that initally gave North America shows such as Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and Pop Idol, you'll either instantly understand my point or be as confused as ever. I only mention ITV now because it has been mentioned as a potential bidder for series three, if only so it can shunt it to its digital-only station ITV2 in an attempt to attract more viewers. Sky One (prop. R. Murdoch) has also been widely mentioned as a potential bidder, if only because it might attract favourable terms in negotiations with FOX (prop. R. Murdoch).
While terrestrial UK viewers of the show might suffer from a move to Channels 4 or five, which are both terrestrial stations available to every UK household with a TV License (which you are required by law to pay for even if you only watch the free-to-air channels and not the BBC ones; this is a separate debate which I won't go into now), its fate looks much bleaker in the event that it's shunted to either ITV2 or Sky One. The adoption rate for digital television, be it by satellite peddled by Sky (prop. R. Murdoch) or by cable offered by one of the few digital cable providers, is still not promising. Regardless of this, any move to a digital-only television station means an extra wait for terrestrial-only viewers, as with the UK rights comes the right to act as a third-party negotiator with any other channels in the UK. This means that terrestrial-only viewers would have to wait at least another six months to have any hope of seeing the show on a terrestrial station.
All in all, the networks have managed to piss me off yet again. Don't even get me started on how the BBC is rushing through the final series of Buffy by showing three episodes a week, when they're not even repeats.