The BBC has appointed the controller of BBC Online Seetha Kumar to the Birtspeak-esque role of “online access champion”. She will be charged with “helping people get online and bridge the digital divide” and making sure “the BBC plays its full part in helping more people take advantage of online services”. Fittingly, BBC COO Caroline Thomson made the announcement at today’s Digital Britain summit where Prime Minister Gordon Brown, business secretary Lord Mandelson and assembled industry leaders debated Lord Carter’s stated aim of extending a minimum level of broadband access across the country and increasing government’s digital services. Kumar was appointed controller of BBC Online in September having previously been head of BBC HD. Release.
Thomson also says the Beeb will organise and invite partners to join an “online access forum” designed to improve access for the 17 million adults who use neither computers or the internet. But in the spirit of Digital Britain, it won’t just focus on connecting people with BBC content but on helping to improve online access full stop. The BBC is also commissioning research on the subject it will share with government. The BBC is looking for ways to help contribute to the online access debate in the context of increasing funding for its own online activities: BBC Online recently won an extra £30 million a year to invest in bbc.co.uk in a three-year funding package that takes the site’s funding to £145.1 million a year.