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BBC responds to Graf report into bbc.co.uk


Category: bbc.co.uk; BBC

Date: 05.07.2004
Printable version


The BBC today welcomed the publication by the DCMS of Philip Graf's independent review of the BBC's online service, bbc.co.uk.

 

The BBC's Board of Governors has made an interim statement.

 

The publication of Graf's report is the culmination of the review process begun in January 2003 and which has included both public and industry consultation.

 

As requested by the Secretary of State, the BBC Governors will make a full response to Graf's recommendations in October 2004.

 

The report finds that bbc.co.uk has met the terms of its original consent, granted by the DCMS in 1998, and has provided an online service of high quality, creativity, innovation and impressive technical capability which is valued by the public.

 

The report states that it is not possible to prove either way that bbc.co.uk has had an adverse market impact and that it is also unlikely that bbc.co.uk has eliminated effective competition across any large areas of online content.

 

Graf's major recommendations include a 25% external spend quota and a clearer remit for bbc.co.uk.

 

He also states that the BBC has a role in supporting Government objectives to promote broadband take-up.

 

Ashley Highfield, BBC Director of New Media & Technology said: "I'm pleased that Philip Graf is supportive of the current online service and that his report recognises the public's wide admiration and support for bbc.co.uk.

 

"This is a solid foundation to build on, especially when taken together with the BBC's vision, as outlined in our recent Building Public Value document, to play a key role in the creation of a fully digital Britain.

 

"Graf's report contains important advice, commentary and criticisms of our online service and we shall be considering these thoroughly over the coming months."

 

Speaking at a press briefing today to give the BBC's initial response to the report, Ashley Highfield stated his ambition to work more closely with regional newspapers to deliver a more collaborative listings service; his desire to increase spend with external companies; the publication of a clearer external links policy; and the BBC's wish for a new remit for bbc.co.uk.

 

He said that bbc.co.uk will reprioritise services to focus on the challenge of building a digital Britain, in line with Building Public Value.

 

Website changes

 

In advance of this refocusing, some of the principles of the Public Value Test outlined in Building Public Value have been applied to bbc.co.uk over recent months.

 

As a result, some sites have been charged with becoming more distinctive (eg Films), some have recently been re-launched with slimmer areas of content (eg Lifestyle), and some are to be closed altogether.

 

The five sites for closure are: Fantasy Football; the central What's On events listings; the Surfing portal; the Games portal; and Pure Soap.

 

Regional listings

 

The regional listings services on the Where I Live sites will begin an immediate dialogue with local newspapers to explore how the service might be offered in closer collaboration with them.

 

Ideas for discussion include increasing the BBC's audio visual output and linking direct to local newspaper sites.

 

Spend with external companies

 

Graf's report recommends that bbc.co.uk be subject to an external spend quota of 25%.

 

In 2002/2003 bbc.co.uk doubled its spend with external companies from 6% to 13%.

 

In advance of reporting back to the DCMS formally, the BBC agrees that more external spend would be beneficial to the wider internet industry and, now that the internet market has grown and matured, will examine what it can do to increase its current spend further.

 

Partnerships and links policy

 

The original remit for bbc.co.uk had no formal requirement for industry partnerships, but the BBC acknowledges Graf's suggestions that it could now have a better relationship with the external internet industry.

 

The recent Building Public Value document stressed the decision to build more partnerships across all areas, and the BBC will publish a partnership code in the autumn.

 

Alongside this will be a policy about consistent linking to external websites from bbc.co.uk.

 

Remit

 

The Graf report recommends a clearer remit for the BBC's online activities.

 

The BBC will now work on a new online strategy which, subject to approval from the Governors, will form the basis for a clear remit for bbc.co.uk.

 

The new remit will be made public in the autumn.

 

Philip Graf's report is available from the DCMS website.

 

Notes to Editors

 

Timeline

 

January 2003 - Secretary of State requests the BBC submits a review of its performance against its original consent granted in 1998.

 

July 2003 - BBC publishes its report of its performance, including a study of market impact by KPMG.

 

August 2003 - Secretary of State appoints Philip Graf to be the independent reviewer of the BBC's online service and opens a full public consultation.

 

November 2003 - public consultation closes.

 

Background

 

All new BBC services are subject to independent review by the Government after launch.

 

The first such review was that of BBC News 24, lead by Richard Lambert in 2002.

 

A review of the BBC's new digital services - four TV channels (BBC THREE, BBC FOUR, The CBBC Channel and CBeebies) and five digital radio networks (1Xtra, 6 Music, BBC 7, the Asian Network and Five Live Sports Extra) - was launched by the DCMS in April 2004 and is currently ongoing.

 

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Category: bbc.co.uk; BBC

Date: 05.07.2004
Printable version

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The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



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