BBC criticised over web site launches

Parliamentary reporter | Apr 9, 2009 5:51 AM
An influential UK Committee has demanded the BBC "exhibit extreme caution before launching any further commercial web sites" in a report attacking the lack of transparency surrounding the activity of its commercial arm BBC Worldwide
The report from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee follows evidence from commercial web site operators such as Guardian Media and the British Internet Publishers Alliance (BIPA) over the way BBC Worldwide has launched entirely new multi-platform web sites with no direct links to programmes and which "have a significant negative impact on existing operators in their respective markets".

In evidence, BIPA claimed the BBC dominates the UK's online market and Worldwide commercial sites use the same technology developed for the licence-fee funded bbc.co.uk.

The organisation alleged "unfair competition" with commercial web sites.

Guardian Media said the BBC sites "take eyeballs and advertising income away from existing commercial sites" and crowd out private investment.

The committee said it believes "there is little justification for Worldwide to launch commercial web sites in markets that are already well served by commercial competitors or where a clear link to a programme is absent.”

The MPs said they were concerned about the general expansion in BBC Worldwide's online operations and added: "In particular, we recommend that it undertakes thorough market impact assessments prior to launching new web sites or services on existing sites."