BBC suspends Jam after commercial sector complaints
LONDON - The BBC is to suspend its online children's education service BBC Jam following a raft of complaints from the commercial sector.
The service, which offers curriculum support for school age children, will be taken down from March 20, a year after it was launched and following five years of planning, costing the corporation an estimated £150m.
In a statement, the BBC says the decision to suspend the service was made following discussions with the government and the European Commission, which had received a number of complaints from the commercial sector, arguing the service was unfair competition.
Although the service was aimed at children rather than teachers, many in the commercial education sector argued that the free to access BBC Jam was not distinctive enough and merely replicated what was already on offer.
The BBC Trust said: "Despite a rigorous approval process involving the BBC governors, the Department for Culture Media and Sport and the European Commission resulting in extensive conditions on the service BBC Jam has continued to attract complaints from the commercial sector about the parameters of its activities.
"Subsequently the governors requested management suspend the rollout of any new BBC Jam content pending resolution of how best to address the allegations."
The BBC Trust has now asked management to prepare plans for a replacement service, as the corporation is still committed under its charter to deliver school age education services online.
The trust has pledged that any new proposals will be subject to the corporation's "public value test", including a market impact assessment by Ofcom.
The Conservative Party has laid the blame squarely on what it called "government interference", which it says could now cost the BBC a further £150m.
Ed Vaizey, shadow broadcasting minister, said: "This is a mess of the government's own making. They told the BBC to set up Jam even though a number of education companies were already providing those services.
"We have constantly raised concerns about BBC Jam and its impact on the private sector. It does not surprise us that the service has been suspended. The blame rests fairly with the government."
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