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Highfield Defends Spend

Speaking at the Culture Media and Sport committee's fourth evidence session on the new media inquiry at the House of Commons, BBC new media chief Ashley Highfield defended the BBC's current 73m spend on its bbc.co.uk services and commented on projects and related spending out to 2013.

The current spend equates to 3% of the licence fee, around 4 a year or 33p a month. He likened the projected 2013 cost of online operations to "one music download" a month for every liscence fee payer.

According to the MediaGuardian, Highfield mentioned "the development of a greatly expanded range of products and services that the BBC is aiming to push through including the BBC iPlayer, a site focussed on user-generated content and Creative Archive, which allows members of the public access to content that they can use for non-commercial purposes - that commercial rivals have argued will crush market competition."

Some of those intrerviewed by the MediaGuardian were not so enthusiastic:
The BBC's new media strategy came in for heavy criticism from a number of bodies - the committee was attended by the UK Association of Online Publishers, the British Internet Publishers Alliance, the Newspaper Society, the Satellite & Cable Broadcasters Group and the Digital Content Forum - who are concerned that its actions threaten their commercial operations.

"Sky has the power of life and death over us. The BBC just has the power of death," said Fred Perkins, former chairman of the Digital Content Forum and founder and chief executive of Information.tv.
Highfield and others (including BBC director of strategy, Caroline Thomson) further defended the BBC's efforts:
There is a feeling that the BBC has a gameplan of a predatory approach and this is not true, said Highfield. We are aware of issues and are not a standalone gatekeeper ... we must be more porous.
The full article is worht a read. If a report is issued, it will be posted here, and the formal meeting minutes will be posted sooner or later.


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