Supporting UK digital media

Head of Business Operations at Audio and Music

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Last week, my colleagues and I in the BBC's Audio & Music Interactive department (A&MI) hosted an event for ninety representatives of the UK's digital media industry.

The event gave indies (independent suppliers) the opportunity to meet the BBC staff that commission work for A&MI, and vice versa. We plan to run these events at least once a year from now on.

It was a really important and useful gathering, both for us and the industry. BBC Audio & Music Interactive invested £3.8 million in the digital media industry last year.

We've a good track record of working in partnership with indies to deliver great content and services. Last year we commissioned 391 projects from 91 different digital media suppliers, 41 of which were new suppliers to the department. Projects ranged from building Radio 1's Big Weekend mobile check-in experiment (Future Platforms) to refreshing 6 Music's homepage (Kent Lyons).

This year's Glastonbury site, built by Picture, saw a massive 122% increase in peak weekly traffic, and our new Desert Island Discs site, built by Magnetic North, received critical and audience praise. Meanwhile, the newly-available archive episodes of Desert Island Discs, reformatted by Loftus, attracted 3.3 million downloads in the first two months.

Audio & Music Interactive is one of five BBC departments that make up BBC Online. Overall, BBC Online invested a total £19.5 million in the independent sector last year, exceeding the 25% external spend quota laid out in its Service Licence.

This year, BBC Online's existing portfolio of content and services is being reshaped into a more coherent offer, as we respond to an overall 25% cut in the online budget. Some indies at the event expressed understandable concern over the impact that a reduction in BBC spending would have on the sector.

I was pleased to announce that, despite these reductions, A&MI plans to invest £3.7 million in the UK's digital media industry this year - part of BBC Online's forecast external spend of around £18 million.

So, we'll be looking again to the digital media industry to deliver projects that help unlock the BBC Radio archives; deliver content for mobiles; and further develop BBC Music online.

It's clear to us that investing in UK digital media is good for the industry, good for the BBC, and good for our audiences.

Barbara Greenway is Head of Business Operations and Multiplatform at BBC Audio & Music Interactive

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