Internet publishers have attacked the BBC’s online expansion,
saying that the public broadcaster will squeeze out smaller commercial
players and stifle investment in the sector.
The group, which includes the Electronic Telegraph and LineOne, put
forward their case at a House of Commons hearing.
British Internet Publishers Association (BIPA) members were asked to
give evidence at the culture, media and sport select committee’s enquiry
into BBC funding.
The delegation was led by BIPA co-ordinator Angela Mills, who was joined
by Electronic Telegraph publisher Danny Meadows-Klue and Ajay Chowdhury,
managing director of LineOne - the joint venture between United News &
Media and BT. They called for an urgent review of BBC activities online
by the Office of Fair Trading.
Chowdhury told the hearing that the BBC dominated the UK internet market
in several fields, including news ’where it is four times the size of
the largest player’, children’s learning, motoring and gardening.
Mills said Britain was the only country in the developed world that
thought it needed public money or a state broadcaster to kick-start the
Meadows-Klue asked: ’Is it a proper role for the BBC to expand its
publicly funded brands into e-retailing? ’
BIPA’s comments had been ’very well received,’ continued Meadows-Klue.
’The committee shared our members’ concern that activity on the net is
not only unchecked and potentially damaging to the market, but in need