01 September 1999

CRIES OF ‘FOUL’ rent cyberspace as outraged media barons condemned, the free ISP launched by the BBC’s commercial arm BBC Worldwide. Ten media companies, including Emap, United News & Media,and ITN, jointly wrote to culture, media and sports secretary Chris Smith, expressing concern that the BBC venture will 'dominate the nascent British market for internet publishing'. The letter continues: 'The BBC is effectively being sanctioned to colonise a new technology to the detriment of dozens of British commercial publishers who would otherwise be investing in new services. The free BBC portal will massively reinforce the BBC’s presence on the internet with the public.' The BBC defended its venture, claiming it is not funded via licence fees but from the earnings of BBC Worldwide. Meantime, the BBC has enlisted convenience store chain T&S, through whose 1,200 outlets the freebeeb access CD-Rom is distributed. The CD is also obtainable via a BBC hotline and cover-mounted on magazines. It is estimated that there are now over 200 free ISPs in the UK.