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BBC Trust Adds £30 Million To BBC Online's Annual Budget

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image Having been chided for overspending its digital budget to the tune of £36 million last year, the BBC has now won backing for an extra £30.7 million a year to invest in bbc.co.uk over the next three years, taking the overall budget to £145.1 million. The BBC Trust met yesterday to approve the three-year funding deal, and says the decision to add to the existing £114.4 million budget is part of a long-term plan to “move more resources online from traditional linear television and radio”, but the funding is subject to a series of conditions set by trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons. The new investment is a fair-old sum given the carnage the Beeb’s commercial rivals are facing, but it’s still some way less than the £52.7 million increase the BBC executive asked for in December. The money doesn’t include funding for long-term new-media projects such as the iPlayer or project Canvas.

Lyons’ warning: While some publishers worry about the encroaching influence and reach of bbc.co.uk as a news provider, Lyons says “any potential adverse market impact of the new investment would be justified by the public value created” and says there was no need for a public value test. However, he says the trust is “aware of continuing commercial concerns, not least among small operators”. A new system of determining the Beeb’s market impact is due to be unveiled by the executive in May, and the trust warns it could withhold investment if it fails to accurately judge market impact.

Savings: The trust also passed director general Mark Thomson’s proposed extra savings of £400 million, which he announced at the Guardian Changing Media Summit yesterday, taking the corporation’s planned savings for the next five years to £1.9 billion.

Release | Michael Lyons’ Letter

UPDATE: Unsurprisingly, troubled ITV News producer ITN is less than impressed by the trust’s decision to increase the BBC’s online funding. It said in a statement today that the continued online “superfunding” would “simply cement the corporation’s dominant position in the market” and said the BBC “seems determined to build a position aimed at destroying the business models of competitors.” ITV ITN accuses the trust of having “no concept” of the market impact of bbc.co.uk on commercial players or “the threat it poses long term to plurality in the media landscape.”