A government review of the BBC's online services has said it must redefine the remit for its online services.
The BBC's websites are used by a wide range of age groups
The report's author, former newspaper executive Philip Graf, weighed up whether the BBC had adhered to its original online plans and looked at their impact on the commercial sector.
Here is an outline of the report's key findings:
- The BBC must redefine the remit and objectives for its online services, to be defined around public purposes.
- The BBC must communicate its objectives to the public and the wider market.
- BBC Online should continue to act as a guide to the internet for those who require it.
- It must include more consistent and transparent links to all relevant commercial and public sources, and not only link to BBC pages.
- BBC's online services were found to deliver high quality material in an effective and user-friendly manner.
- A number of changes could improve the experience for users, deliver efficiency and ensure the site reflects the priorities of BBC online services.
- Some BBC sites, including some games sites and "what's on" listings, were not sufficiently distinctive from commercial alternatives or were inadequately associated with public service purposes.
- At least 25% of online content (excluding news) should be supplied by external and/or independent suppliers by the time the current Royal Charter expires at the end of 2006.
- The BBC's online services should prioritise news, current affairs, education and information which is of value to the citizen.
- Within these areas, it should prioritise innovative, rich, interactive content.
- The BBC's online sport pages should prioritise sports news, major events and minority sports, and support the BBC's sports programmes.
- The BBC should continue to work with partner organisations to deliver content as effectively and efficiently as possible.
- The current regulation of the BBC's online services should be reinforced by the appointment of two governors.
- One of the new governors should have specific new media expertise and one should have specific competition law expertise.
- The governors should have access to independent analytical advice on issues such as the impact BBC online services have upon the market.
- The BBC should introduce a deliberate "precautionary approach" to investment in its online services.
- If there is a "close call" between the public service benefits of a proposed BBC online service and the costs of that service, the proposal should not be taken forward.
- The theory that BBC's online services had an adverse impact on the UK internet market could be neither proved nor disproved.
- There were indications that it may have had an adverse impact on competition, however, particularly by deterring investment by commercial operators that would have led to new forms of competition.
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