01 October 1998

THE UK INTERNET industry is up in arms at the Government's decision to support the development of BBC Internet with public funds. High profiles within the industry such as Danny Meadows-Klue, manager of the Electronic Telegraph, and Ajaz Ahmed, director of new media shop AKQA, argue that the decision could deal a mortal blow to the fledgling industry in the UK. They are concerned at the massive financial resource available to the BBC for investment in its commercial web ventures, along with the use of its own radio and TV channels to promote these ventures. This, they argue, confers an unfair competitive advantage over others in the marketplace. Says Meadows-Klue: 'The BBC has a monopolistic advantage compared to everyone else and its role in the Internet industry will have far-reaching ramifications. It will have enormous spending power and access to content which will destabilise the industry. Retorted Dominic Riley, BBC head of marketing: 'People are entitled to hold their personal opinions but they would be out of step with the public, which shows that they are overwhelmingly supportive of having BBC content on the Internet.'[A cogent defence but not to the charges levelled. Riley clearly has a promising future in politics!]