Wednesday, March 14, 2007

BBC Jam is taken off the table

The BBC Trust is to pull its £150m online educational service BBC Jam from 20th March. This is not down to cost, nor it being acceptable to users. It is down to complaints from commercial educational software suppliers that it is damaging their interests and follows extensive dialogue with government and the European Commission (EC) over how to address these allegations. Complaints are based on the corporation not following its remit to be "distinctive and complementary" to the offerings from the commercial sector and the suspension comes after continued resistance from the British Educational Suppliers Association.

An earlier judicial review was previously sought by educational software companies. This was based on the basis that the use of state money to fund the BBC's plans would be illegal under European law. An out-of-court settlement was reached in early 2003.

The BBC currently has around 200 staff and 25 external production partners working on BBC Jam. They have so far rolled out approximately 10% of the service at a cost of £76m. The impact on staff and independents is not known today.

Acting chairman of the BBC Chitra Bharucha is reported as saying: "The Trust's view is that whilst 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."