The UK government today said it would allow the BBC to offer its Internet services permanently, as a publicly funded service alongside television and radio.
The office of the secretary of state for culture, Chris Smith, said the decision was based on "overwhelming public support for the BBC's Online public service plans in the widest consultation of its kind".
Over 95 per cent of 1,600 respondents to a survey this summer were favourable to BBC Online.
The consultation findings supported the view that BBC Online should be funded by licence fees.
There was particular support for online services in education, news, politics and weather reports, as well as TV listings and information.
Areas for further development suggested by licence payers - both users and non-users of Online - included more regional information and better feedback and communication mechanisms.
With this hurdle crossed, the BBC will now move Online out of its pilot phase to become its "third medium" of broadcasting along with TV and radio.
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