The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

BBC ONLINE TO STREAMLINE; OTHERS TO FOLLOW?
Deeming a back-to-basics approach for the BBC's online operations to be most prudent, the British government recommended the shuttering of several BBC-hosted websites and a refocus on news, current events and education coverage.

The Graf Report's aim was to see if the BBC's original mission statement for Web works, formulated way back in 1997, was still being adhered to, and (more importantly) was still relevent:
BBC'S 1997 ONLINE REMIT
- To act as an essential resource offering wide-ranging unique content
- To use the internet to forge a new relationship with licence payers and strengthen accountability
- To provide a home for licence payers on the internet and act as a trusted guide to the new media environment
You could argue that the commercial, non-subsidized Web has grown to the point where the BBC's original efforts aren't essential. That's the main thrust of the report.

There was never a single comparable example in the U.S. However, many newspaper and other media companies took it upon themselves, in the early days of the commercial Internet, to serve as similar vehicles. It made sense: When venturing into a new media frontier, the traditional media companies have the expertise that's likeliest to transfer best. Thus, you had lots of small businesses setting up Web pages (not full sites, just pages) designed and hosted by newspapers, Yellow Pages publishers and the like. Even now, you can still find plenty of online properties chugging along like this, as if it still is circa 1997.

My guess is the transformations at the BBC online will be watched carefully by American newspapers, who will mimic this refocusing effort. It could trigger a wide back-to-basics approach in online media business.