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BBC Trust, the independent regulator that governs the broadcaster, today launched a wide-ranging review of bbc.co.uk to ensure the corporation’s websites offer sufficient public value. The trust will examine how bbc.co.uk output matches the BBC’s public-service remit, how distinctive it is and how it is adapting to web developments. This is the first of the trust’s major reviews of key BBC services, which it is charged with conducting every five years.
The last such review, conducted by Philip Graf in 2003 before the trust was conceived, called for more links to commercial media sites, said what’s-on listings should be scaled back because the commercial sector already did the same thing and imposed a quota under which 25 percent of content must be commissioned from independent producers. If the trust’s brief record since its January birth is anything to go by, the BBC could face a tough time justifying many of its services. The Trust already has ordered the closure of the BBC Jam education site after complaints from commercial rivals, leading to 200 job cuts, and blocked several proposed features of the iPlayer (but didn’t ensure platform neutrality). The trust published review guidelines; results are due in early 2008.