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5 years ago... BBC defends £20m online bill

And it's still defending it to this day...
Written by silicon.com staff, Contributor

And it's still defending it to this day...

21.10.98: BBC chairman, Sir Christopher Bland addressed the House of Commons Culture Committee yesterday to explain that the £20m of licence-payers money used to set up BBC Online is money well spent.

Bland told the committee that the BBC has to keep up online.

Sir John Birt, the BBC's director general, described the site "as the best in the world", adding that there is no better way of finding out what is happening in the world.

A spokesman for the BBC commented that the select committee "encouraged us to get online," adding, "using one per cent of the budget is a small amount for a start up".

He explained that the site is getting 31 million page impressions a month and has doubled its user base in the past six months.

Robin Duke-Woolley, principle analyst at Schema, said: "If the BCC didn't have a website they would be seen as being behind the times. Although a smaller amount of the population have web access, a high percentage that do are youngsters so this helps out with the education needs of kids in the UK."

21.10.03: The debate rages on still. With the government and the BBC now apparently more adversarial than ever (did somebody say Hutton Inquiry?) Auntie has once again been hauled in front of the government to justify herself and the investment in the Beeb's online activities.

Very few people question the quality of the BBC site, it is the funding and the competition issues which arise that cause concerns. Is it fair that the BBC be able to compete with commercial organisations, funded as it is by licence fees.

It's an argument with a strong case for and against the BBC and as such can never be resolved to everybody's satisfaction.

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