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Nigel Chapman | 10:01 UK time, Monday, 17 December 2007

This post is part of the tenth birthday celebrations of bbc.co.uk

In early 1999, the web and the BBC presence there was like a goldrush in the Wild West. All the programmes were putting stakes in the ground for their individual sites, but few people outside News had looked around and seen that people were increasingly navigating by genre or subject, not programme title. That had to change - and we did by 2000 - but it was very difficult.

The other big challenge was technology, and how to produce web pages efficiently and quickly for areas like sport. News had invented its own brilliant Content Production System, but everyone else had methods more like bespoke tailoring than mass production. Ambitions to produce a single BBC system floundered on cost and political infighting. Eventually, News and Sport agreed to use News CPS to drive both sites - that took some brokering and that gave the second biggest genre on the web its BBC breakthrough.


1999-2000 were exciting times, but exhausting. People had big ambitions, talked a big talk, but were simply unaware (with the exception of BBC News) of what it took to support major web operations across such a wide waterfront.

But crucially, a cup half full was a lot better than most other broadcasters, and all in the UK. It may have been bumpy, but that landgrab has served us well. Others are still catching up in the UK.

Nigel Chapman is Director, World Service.


  1. At 09:17 AM on 18 Dec 2007, tim munro wrote:

    like the new beta page but have to scroll to the right every time to read the full list can you not fix it so the whole page is on the screen without having to scroll across ta very much. tim

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