After completing an extensive review of the website bbc.co.uk, the BBC Trust announced on May 29 that the Corporation flagship website went over budget by approximately £36m in the past year.
The Service Licence baseline budget for the website for the year 2007-08 was set at £74.2m, and the maximum overspend of 10 percent was allowed (i.e. £81.6m); however, the actual spend on this website was £110m, almost 50 percent higher than the baseline budget.
The Trust officials found that most of this extra money was not justified expenditure toward the site but a misallocation of funds; almost £25m was spent in overheads and costs to other budgets within the BBC, which pointed toward poor financial accountability.
The Trust acknowledges the fact that bbc.co.uk is a popular website, and in order to withstand competition and provide the best quality of news and services, it needs to evolve continuously.
However, the trust also maintains that it will not approve any new investments until further investigation and until it is sure that there will be improved financial accountability and better editorial and managerial oversight.
The trustee who led the review, Dame Patricia Hodgson said that the trust agrees with the management’s plans to improve certain aspects of the website, in particular, the search function and navigation; however, the trust needs to be ensured that the money allotted to the site will be spent wisely and there will be better financial accountability.
The BBC's website is one of the most visited websites in the UK and roughly half of visitors come from overseas.