The BBC Trust’s review of the BBC online activities has been published, with some media seizing on the overspend of £36m.
Overall, the Trust is positive about bbc.co.uk, describing it as an “excellent service that is highly valued by users and makes a strong contribution to delivering the BBC’s public purposes”.
But it adds that “it is essential that the service remains distinctive” and more significantly that:
The Trust will not approve new investments without further scrutiny and until confident that improved management controls are in place to ensure better financial accountability and editorial and managerial oversight.
It is going to take some time to read through all this material. So here are some selected highlights from the Trust’s report on the BBC News website:
- BBC news online is the most used area of bbc.co.uk and usage is still growing strongly. In the last three months of 2007, the BBC’s online news reached around 6.7 million users in the UK each week, up 18% from the same period in 2006
- The BBC’s online news service is highly appreciated by licence fee payers. It was praised for its accuracy, impartiality, range and ease of use and its users clearly have a high level of trust in it
- bbc.co.uk may help the BBC reach younger adults with news but the less well off remain better served by television and radio news. The BBC’s online and mobile news services have a higher proportion of 16-34 year old users than most of its television or radio news services
- There is encouraging evidence that BBC news is thinking hard about how it manages user-generated content and other forms of participation and we encourage it in this, given the importance of the BBC’s distinctive journalism values
Clearly the Trust views news as one of the jewels in the BBC’s online crown.