BBC website ‘a black hole for cash’


30 May 2008

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The BBC’s web services were almost £36m sterling over budget in the past financial year, it has emerged.

The www.bbc.co.uk site, which has 16.5 million visitors a month and is one of the most popular websites in the UK, was 48pc above its allotted budget for the year ending March 2008, the Guardian reported.

The overspending resulted in the BBC Trust accusing BBC’s management of “poor financial accountability”.

The BBC, which launched the catch-up TV service iPlayer last year, is due to receive another £39m sterling in investment for online services later this year, but the overspending puts the investment of this full amount in jeopardy.

In total, the actual spend by the BBC in the past year on UK web operations was £110m sterling. The BBC Trust said it would not sign off the extra £39m sterling unless executives showed by November that they had improved mangagement controls of bbc.co.uk’s finances.

Investing the full £39m sterling into online services would mean the real cost of bbc.co.uk would have doubled to almost £150m sterling within two years.

A restructuring of the BBC’s online operations, which gave individual divisions such as BBC Vision more control over their web activities, led to the overspend the BBC Trust said, adding that the overspending was a “serious breach” of bbc.co.uk’s service licence.

By Niall Byrne