BBC Eyes Search

    July 19, 2004

The BBC has tentative plans to launch it’s own search engine designed to compete with major search entities like Google and Yahoo!. The BBC’s new media director Ashley Highfield tells a British publication that the BBC has its eye set on the search engine industry. Given that the current search landscape is currently dominated by American properties, the BBC believes that a new search engine -with a British twist, could successfully enter the foray and provide a desirable alternative to its American counterparts.

The subject of the Media Guardian’s interview with Highfield was primarily centered around the BBC’s plans to use it’s considerable resources to enter the broadband market. Despite some expected criticisms from some commercial rivals, the BBC is exploring the possibility of entering the market in an attempt to proliferate broadband connectivity. The media giant’s search engine aspirations arose during the course of the discussion and were expected to draw far less criticism from rival interests.

In a recently commissioned Graf report, an independent review of the BBC online, the BBC met with some criticism regarding their potential for monopolizing certain gateways. The Graf report seemed to support however, the entry of the BBC into the search market saying:
“As the importance of search tools to usage grows, the rationale for a publicly funded search tool becomes stronger: the search market is likely to be led by commercial US service providers (most notably, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, which will shortly launch its own proprietary product), whose search products are inevitably influenced by commercial considerations. There may be genuine public value in the provision of a search function free from such considerations (i.e. publicly funded). The BBC is one of the most obvious providers of such a search engine…”

Highfield welcomed the apparent endorsement saying, “His (Graf) having endorsed that approach means that we can really look at creating a content driven, trusted, independent, British-centric standalone service”. No further details on the specifics of the BBC search plan have been made available.

Mike is a manager at iEntry. He has been with iEntry since 2000.