Speech given at a Westminster Media Forum on the Department for Culture,
Media & Sport review of BBC online services
heard so much today, a range of viewpoints, from so many different areas
interested in the BBC's online services.
want to duplicate what we have already discussed, but I do want to touch
on the future and address some misconceptions.
is a golden opportunity to define our role in the future of online.
new media landscape presents both challenges and opportunities for us
as an industry and it is against this backdrop that I see the BBC's
online services having an increasingly important role to play in helping
to create a 100% connected, digital Britain.
name and tri media approach means that we are in a unique position to
bring new demographics on line for the first time and keep them there.
since bbc.co.uk began is testament to the fact that we have already
provided a unique resource online that makes a genuine difference to
to create innovative formats and content and encourage connectivity,
community, and creativity online.
last five years, the BBC's online services have attracted new users
at a faster rate than the growth of the internet.
its telling for ukplc.com that the only companies with a still greater
reach than ours - Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! - are all American,
with no remit to delight a UK audience, or to help grow our indigenous
new media businesses.
what? What does this matter to the ordinary user of BBCi?
10 million people find exactly what they need on the BBC website, and
enjoy the experience, every month.
another way, that's equivalent to 43% of the UK internet population
using the BBC's website each month.
million GCSE students finding the resources they need to pass their
exams and 98% of teachers finding the support they need to teach them.
hours of original radio production being made available online each
250,000 people joining in our debate online about the outbreak of war
the 25 million adults and children online in the UK, 7%, two million,
said they'd been motivated to log on to the internet for the very first
time due solely to the BBC's website.
before you accuse me of having put on the ill-fitting Reithian sack
cloth of Public Service worthiness, I also want to mention upfront some
of our more controversial sites - our chatrooms and message boards,
where one million people a month take the opportunity to make their
voice heard online in a safe environment - against a backdrop where
the market leader MSN has recently pulled out.
news sites, where 20 million people world wide log on to bbc.co.uk for
a high quality, trusted, impartial viewpoint in a market that is increasingly
going the way of Fox.
Where I Live sites which offer 40 regions across the UK, quality, tailored
information and representation at an ultra local level, tied in to our
local radio stations, aimed at communities of all ages.
our history, science and nature sites, we also do entertainment.
has always had a responsibility as part of its Charter to entertain
as well as educate and inform and we carry this responsibility into
the online environment as well.
the successes broadcast on TV and radio via our websites, everything
from Dead Ringers to The Office, but we also develop and enhance original
entertainment formats and invent totally new ones.
Who, for example, where we have developed an animated series using never-before-broadcast
scripts from the likes of the late Douglas Adams.
have kept the Doctor alive for quarter of a million die-hard fans who
will finally be rewarded when Doctor Who returns to BBC ONE.
about our cult webcast Ghosts of Albion, which isn't connected to a
linear BBC programme, but pushes the boundaries of storytelling online
and which, incidentally, recently won a special recommendation at the
prix Europa, voted on by the industry.
I am also
talking about Fightbox and Celebdaq, which brought completely new formats
for entertainment to life via the internet, so successfully, in fact,
that they were later commissioned as TV programmes.
examples have been developed in collaboration with Indies.
supporting a new and fragile industry, in a TV/ Radio/ Online, tri-media
way, that only the BBC can make happen.
It is against
the backdrop of these services that I want to say that we at the BBC
welcome this review.
It is not
something we are ashamed of and we don't see it, as some elements of
the media have portrayed it, as a test - something dreadful we have
to face as a punishment for our past wrongdoings.
to state that to my mind, beyond doubt, through providing the kind of
compelling content I have just mentioned, we have absolutely met all
the requirements of the original terms of consent laid down for us by
the DCMS in 1998.
after all, a large part of what the review is about.
gone farther than the consent permitted?
no, but then we do acknowledge that the consent, written as it was in
the infancy of the dot.com revlution, was couched in very broad terms.
always stuck to the spirit of the consent?
- we have always developed our services in the interest of the licence
fee payer. And yes - last year we spent £72 million doing so.
BBCi online budget of £21 million was only set for the trial phase
of the service in 1998 and the Governors, who ultimately control budget
allocation at the BBC, saw fit to extend this amount as the internet
universe developed and as the obvious benefits to the licence fee payer
have heard from KPMG, the negative impact of this £72 million
spend on the market is principally confined to the advertising sector
and estimated to be about 2% of total revenue.
want to deny or downplay this impact, but I do want to make clear, and
I hope I have, what exactly this spend means in real terms, as far as
our users, the licence fee payers, are concerned, some 300,000 of whom
now consume BBC content only via BBCi.
never ever been my intention to distort the new media market.
only ever wanted to provide a quality public service that exists for
the good of the nation.
that we at the BBC have a unique responsibility to the British public
for our services and I see the review as an opportunity to gather the
viewpoints and feedback from all interested parties.
I am genuinely
keen to hear from you about the ways in which you think we could continue
to develop this national resource and, at the same time, make our contribution
to the online world less controversial in your eyes.
that many of you would like us to work closer with the indie sector.
say that in the last few years we have made a big effort to do so.
I appreciate we could perhaps do more to make BBCi's relationship with
the industry more symbiotic, more two way.
that many of you would like us to cross promote from our sites to your
say here that we already link directly to 200,000 external sites and
that 65% of internet users have used bbc.co.uk as a springboard to go
elsewhere on the web.
we could try to make these figures higher (although please bear in mind
that before we cross promote to your sites, we have to be allowed to
cross promote our own sites from TV and radio).
the oxygen we get from cross-promotion and we'll all be left gasping
that many of you would also say that we have a responsibility to drive
the uptake of new technologies. I
centres and webwise courses have already seen tens of thousands of people
sign up for both formal and informal learning in computer skills - through
which we are able to actively promote the take up on online and encourage
a web literate UK.
I can safely
say, we will continue to push in this area and educate potential new
users of the internet and, for that matter, any other technology that
is key to the creation of a digital Britain.
is by providing the "must see" content and services via these
new technologies that we will make a real difference to the UK's digital
already tried to innovate in the areas of web-on-tv, PDAs, digital and
interactive TV, and have encouraged people to go online via whichever
device is appropriate to their lifestyle.
brings me to the BBC's role in the take up of broadband - one area I
am particularly keen to get yours views on and an area where I feel
the BBC has huge potential, in the future, to offer a distinctive service
of high appeal to those thinking of converting to broadband.
provide clear water between our services and the rest of the market.
increasingly offering broadband content from our site, streaming BBC
programmes such as EastEnders and The Office over the internet.
use our broadcast content, our access to millions of hours of radio
and TV, to provide rich media over broadband and convince people of
the advantages of broadband to their lives.
actually collaborating with broadband service providers such as AOL
and Freeserve already. But we could do more.
on services such as these would, I hope, go some way in reassuring the
market that we have no desire to park a tank on every lawn.
end of the day, we are a public service organisation and audiences are
at the heart of everything we do.
a public service duty, to provide something of value to every single
individual, currently online in the UK.
sometimes quite a frightening task and an incredible responsibility
and I'd just ask you to think honestly: in whose interest would it be
to alter our services?
not the users, the ordinary people who log on to our site daily, to
explore, learn, participate and connect with people from every conceivable
background, from all over the UK.
these communities, want a safe, trusted, ad-free, subscription-free
public space online, where they can enjoy all the benefits of online
interaction on an absolutely equal footing.
do so via the BBC's online services and I feel very passionately that
it would not be in their interests, the people who pay for bbc.co.uk
via the licence fee, to cut back on the services that they find so valuable.
that today and in the months to come we will hear more industry views
and I welcome it, but I want to close by showing you a tape of some
of the services we bring to UK citizens, delivering the BBC's public
service offering of lifelong learning, independent information and quality
entertainment through online services.
are built with commercial technology and content partners, delivered
through commercial internet service providers, and linked from and to
third party content and commerce web sites.
our content creation and production skills, our cross-promotion, our
brand strengths, our values, and our public funding.
mix, this symbiotic relationship, through which I believe we can achieve
100% digital Britain.
tide of digital consumption will primarily be to the advantage of the
UK people, but will bring benefits to all players, both public service