The British Broadcasting Corporation's websites, in English and in the 33 languages broadcast on the BBC World Service, are among the most powerful online providers of content -- in particular news and current affairs information -- on the internet. But as the level of individual users' internet usage and sophistication grows, BBC.co.uk is looking to advance its methods of getting this content to people beyond the provision of one simple one-size-fits-all website. Tools such as RSS feeds and desktop news alerts began the process, which, driven by a Creative Futures programme and a set of 15 "web principles", has now expanded to include the establishment of presences in, and utilisation of, Second Life, YouTube and MySpace. Meanwhile new deals allowing for content to be distributed more widely are being announced virtually on a monthly basis.
But what are the implications of such moves? Should a publicly-funded broadcaster be involved to such an extent with private interests? Is this extension of BBC News into these areas likely to attract further complaints from private media broadcasters who argue they are marginalised by the BBC"s subsidised clout? And will it leave those with limited or no ability or interest in the new interactive world underserved - or neglected altogether?