BBC Trust takes Jam off menu, orders rethink

BBC Trust

The BBC's ruling body, the BBC Trust, is axing the corporation's online education service after receiving complaints from commercial rivals who are also seeking redress from the European Commission. BBC Jam will be pulled from Tuesday, but acting Trust chairman Chitra Bharucha called on the BBC's management to prepare fresh proposals which will be subjected to a market impact assessment by Ofcom.

Bharucha said that complaints from commercial online education publishers had persisted despite a "rigorous" approval process in 2003 involving the Trust's predecessor body, the BBC Governors, as well as the Department for Culture Media and Sport, and the EC. Complaints had been made to the EC regarding conditions of consent, and the Governors had called for BBC Jam to be suspended.

"As part of the original terms of BBC Jam's consent, the BBC Trust must carry out a review of the service, including a market impact assessment, during 2007. We have considered the EC's request?in light of industry's allegations of non-compliance?to subject BBC Jam to a separate review, in advance of that already scheduled for later this year.

"The Trust's view is that, while it is paramount that BBC Jam complies with the conditions of its consent, two consecutive regulatory reviews would be unnecessarily bureaucratic and complex, with serious implications for delivery of the service to licence fee payers."

BBC director general Mark Thompson said: "We regret that for the BBC, all staff involved in the service, our external production partners and the many people who have enjoyed using BBC Jam over recent months?children, their parents and teachers alike?the decision to suspend the service will come as a real disappointment."

Lovelace Consulting  |  16.03.2007

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