BBC trust, Not Becta, In Jam Suspension

6th April 2007 at 01:00
Your article last week entitled "Online service Jammed"

makes the claim that the decision to suspend BBC Jam was taken after "I Becta decided to impose new bureaucratic measures... " This is untrue.

The Content Advisory Board, established in 2003, which is appointed by the Secretary of State for Education and chaired by Becta's chief executive, has a responsibility to advise the Secretary of State for Education and Skills on the performance of the BBC's Curriculum Online initiative.

CAB has a number of objectives including Objective Five, which is "to monitor public sector involvement in Curriculum Online". As part of this objective, it monitors the development of BBC Jam and the BBC's approach to developing a service that is distinctive, innovative and complementary to the commercial and public sector market.

When earlier this year, the BBC Trust began planning an interim review of the service in relation to condition four, laid down by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which requires the service to be distinctive and complementary to services provided by the commercial sector, CAB was to provide the methodology and criteria.

In developing its methodology, CAB took into account the views of Ofcom, the BBC Trust and industry. Ofcom reported that it thought CAB's methodology seemed sensible, robust and workable.

Having developed a robust methodology, CAB's role was to receive reports from the appointed review body and to provide advice to the Secretary of State for Education and Skills and the BBC Trust on whether its criteria of complementarity and distinctiveness had been satisfied.

The decision to suspend the service was explained in the statement issued by the BBC on March 14. It reads: "The Trust's decision follows extensive discussions with Government and the European Commission about how to address allegations from some in the industry that Jam is damaging their interests."

Ian Adams

executive director, Partnerships, Commissioning, Marketing and Communications, Becta

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