LONDON: Britain's traditional media – TV, radio and print – are investing heavily in extending their brands online, especially in the 'public service' sector, reports communications regulator Ofcom.

In total, says the watchdog, the nation's total spend  on public service internet content is £500 million ($1.97bn; €623.8m) annually – although that figure includes money spent by central and local government. Also by museums, charities and other educational organisations.

Significantly over half of total public service spend – around £330m – comes from media entities, led by the BBC which lavished £116m of licence-payers' cash on in its 2006-7 financial year. 

This dwarfs the combined public service content contribution of the three main commercial companies (ITV, Channel 4 and Five), which over the same period shelled-out a niggardly £13m-£14m.

In addition, newspapers and other commercial news providers, primarily NewsCorp's Sky News, spent a further £200 million in the same fiscal - the first time that such an estimate has been made.

Reading the expenditure runes on behalf of Ofcom is strategic media, marketing and telecoms consultancy MTM London, which also estimates that 10% of newspaper spending on print journalism should be reallocated to online.

This, says, MTM, reflects the increasingly bi-media reality of newspaper news desks, which are exploring ways to develop broadcast content.

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