BBC Threatens UK’s Digital Publishing Sector, Argues Industry Alliance

18 February 2002

The publicly funded British Broadcasting Corporation has been blasted for edging rival commercial operators out of the online publishing market.

The British Internet Publishers Alliance made the accusation in a letter to BBC chairman Gavyn Davies, claiming that even the slightest prospect of a fresh online venture by the Corporation is enough to dam the flow of investment into commercial equivalents.

Although the Alliance has no objection to the Beeb’s online news offerings, it argues that the broadcaster’s interests in areas such as music and motoring damage competition. The BBC wants to assign £20 million a year to promoting its range of internet services, a budget BIPA claims is large enough to scare off even the larger commercial operators from establishing online ventures.

BIPA draws support from several of Britain’s largest media groups, including Trinity Mirror, News International, Associated Newspapers, Guardian Media Group, Emap, IPC, Capital Radio and Chrysalis.

The body, says new chairman Hugo Drayton, is chiefly concerned with this one issue. “The central cause is that the BBC threatens to undermine the competitiveness of the UK's digital publishing market,” he declared.

“In government discussions, they tend to bundle in digital publishing with broadcasting, which we would argue is a damaging and ignorant thing to do. There is no other country in the western world that has made a decision that a state-backed dinosaur should be used to promote the use of the web.”

Data sourced from: The Times (London); BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff