Tighter management called for BBC website


The BBC Trust has released its results of bbc.co.uk and praised the BBC website for being “an excellent service that is highly valued by users and makes a strong contribution to delivering the BBC’s public purposes.’ But the report also notes that “tighter management’ controls are needed as a result of “poor financial accountability.’

The review states that “it is essential that the service remains distinctive’ and that it “should continue to develop to meet changing customer needs.’ However, “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.’

In 2006/7 the BBC spent 70 percent of license fees on television channels and 17 percent on its radio services as compared to only 3 percent on bbc.co.uk. The website is the BBC’s fourth-most widely used service and according to the BBC Trust delivered good value for money. However, the review revealed that in 2007/8 the actual spend on bbc.co.uk was £110 million, 48 percent higher than the Service Licence baseline budget. “Most of this increase was not overspend, but the misallocation of £24.9 million in overheads and costs to other budgets within the BBC.’

“The Trust has concluded that tighter management controls are necessary for bbc.co.uk and has requested these be implemented to the Trust’s satisfaction before it will consider approval of the additional investment for the service as proposed by BBC management.’

The BBC’s response was: “We accept the Trust’s conclusions that our processes and management controls were not adequate for a pan-BBC service straddling multiple cost centers. This is regrettable and we recognize the need to address this. We are developing plans which we believe will fully meet the concerns raised in the report, and provide a high level of reassurance to the BBC Trust that additional controls will be quickly implemented. We will do this while ensuring that bbc.co.uk continues to be a distinctive service delivering strong public value. We look forward to discussing our plans in detail with the BBC Trust in the coming weeks.”


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