The BBC believes it has what it takes to bring the un-Webbed masses online and has set up beeb, an online consumer service, with ICL.
However, the service is limited to Webzines (content only), as beeb executives see their mission as bringing newcomers to a new medium. But beeb, the Internet access provider, is a likely development later this year.
beeb takes BBC consumer brands, programmes like Top Gear and BBC sports, and presents them on the Web. Launched on 5 June, eight new sites will be switched on to beeb throughout the year.
beeb's first commercial site is (topgear.com), and this will be followed by The Score, a sports Webzine covering sports like football, rugby, golf and motor racing.
A BBC shop is also planned among the first sites. Film, drama and comedy sites will be added later in the year.
"beeb aims to make the Web a mainstream part of life," said Rupert Miles, beeb director. "It will become as every day an experience as watching TV, listening to the radio and reading magazines. Or strength is in consumer personalities."
None of the cash from BBC licence fees has been used to set up beeb - ICL funded most of the project. beeb comes under the auspices of BBC Worldwide, a commercial arm of the BBC that provides revenue streams for the public broadcasting organisation.
To begin with, the content of the site will be aimed at the demographics of Web users, but this will "evolve as the demographics of the Web's audience evolves", said Miles.
Content is organised into Webzines and most of it is free, but premium charged channels are planned for the future.
Interactive feedback, or audience participation in TV talk, will be a major part of the offering.
beeb will benefit from the considerable cross-promotional opportunities that come with being a BBC company. "The launch is just the beginning," said Miles. "Once we have a critical mass of content we will be shouting very loudly indeed." (www.beeb.com).
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