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back to article BBC culls Jam staff

The BBC will cut all staff posts at its suspended online education portal, BBC Jam. Around 200 job slots will disappear. The free-at-point-of-use service, which had an annual budget of £150m, was suspended in March after unidentified private education providers complained to the EU that the Beeb was damaging their market. At …

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No Jam Tomorrow

As a parent with kids that could really have benefitted from the Jam content, I'm sorry to see it go. For certain, the company that complained will only produce a fraction of what the Beeb would have produced, the quality will be a load worse, and the prices will be infinitely higher. But their directors will be able to buy themselves their new BMWs so that's OK then.

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Sounds like rubbish to me..

Surely ITV could come back with the same argument that the BBC's production of television programmes means fewer people are watching their channels, ergo less advertising revenue?

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Clarity

I think we should be told who these "private companies" are. The worst thing that ever happened to education is that "market forces" were introduced. As ever profit is the imperative so kids and students take second place to greedy shareholders.

Name and shame them!

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BESA

Cris, the people who filed complaints in 2003 and now are BESA (British Educational Suppliers Association, www.besa.org.uk).

I'm going to leave it at that because as someone who supplied content to Jam, I'm obviously biased, but here's a comment from BESA's site:

"Industry would be keen to work with the BBC to ensure that they come up with a public service solution which is truly innovative and genuinely distinctive and complementary".

Hmm...

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Bah!

It's as if no-one was allowed to provide a free OS because Microsoft and Apple charge for theirs.

And also it's as if UK license payers had funded the development of said OS to the tune of £150 million.

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Anonymous Coward

Devil's advocate...

As far as I can tell, the industry is having a pretty hard time of it at the moment - this free content could potentially kill smaller companies. There's a fair few people worried about their jobs out there (yes, I admit mine is one of them) - sorry to make it a numbers game but more than the 200 at Jam

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Funding

Another thing: The article implies that the licence payer funded Jam. That's not correct as far as I know. The money (or at least most of it) came from the DfES, not from the BBC's TV licence pot.

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Anonymous Coward

Fuck being devil's advocate

It is absolutely ridiculous that a service paid for by public subscription and/or general taxation, aimed entirely at educating the young, is obliterated so that we can hand it to grubby profiteers who, as Cris said, have been a disaster as far as education goes. It isn't "free" content at all, the public have paid for it and it's absolutely fucking crazy we're handing this to the private sector. Yet another case of these natty industry mouthpieces making sure they hoover up all the money for delivering crap products. The private sector is a joke, anyone with a brain knows this.

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Industry vs BBC

I am generealy an advocate for the industry, since it does drive a lot, but sofar, I have still to see (whether paid for or free of charge) sometyhing with the quality of the BBC.

I am a German who lives in the UK, so I do like comparing with the status quo in Krautland (I love being politically incorrect :-))

Even though in Germany they have a very similar system and charge even more for TV licences, they do not produce anythiing like this quality. I suppose one of the few things, that the brits do better than the krauts.

I haven't come across any commercial provider that has anywhere near this quality on offer.

If they did, they wouldn't need to complain about it, because people are genereally willing to pay for quality (I am!!!!)

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Funding

Another thing: The article implies that the licence payer funded Jam. That's not correct as far as I know. The money (or at least most of it) came from the DfES, not from the BBC's TV licence pot.

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Re: Industry vs BBC

Re: the Devil's Advocate post, I completely understand the needs of the educational software providers but there are a couple of points to consider:

- I am one of the many small businesses that the BBC outsource to. Jam was contractually obliged to pass a third of that £150 Million to companies like us. I know of several who will experience severe problems and job losses now that the income from Jam has disappeared overnight. So it's not just the 200 or 31 jobs at the Beeb.

- The educational software industry also benefits from government money via the E-Learning Credit (Curriculum Online) scheme, which gives funds to schools etc to buy your products. It's not fair to leave that out of this discussion.

And Marc-Oliver, as a fellow ex-pat German I utterly agree with you. Quite often when I hear the moaning about Auntie, I feel that people here don't begin to appreciate what the BBC has done (and does) for broadcasting, creative industries, education etc.

All the BBC-bashing at the moment will lead to it being regulated/scrutinised/penalised to death, and you would all be poorer for it!

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Anonymous Coward

BESA and friends

"educational software industry also benefits from government money via the E-Learning Credit"

This is true in general terms, but when you look at how credits are spent - the bigger ed publishers of old are seeing very little of this funding - they hate elearning credits in fact. UK curricula change rapidly - almost annually, the larger publishers are unresponsive and still expect to milk their lines fully before dropping or updating. Prior to the industry being stimulated most elearning software was truly, dreadfully awful technically and educationally.

The bulk of elearning credits go to new, smaller software houses - often run by and with teachers - they turn around software and updates fast, charge reasonable site license fees and critically provide software which meets the needs of schools and teachers.

Its a great shame Jam is gone - for welsh language speakers, for parents who want to work with their kids at home and for learners with accessibility needs - all of whom are served extremely badly by the main co's behind this action.

I don't expect RM, Pearsons et al to sell a single piece of software more as a result.

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So sell it!

Why don't the BBC spin it out as a company then?

If JAM is so good, then it will compete in an open market. The taxpayers (or whoever) can get their money back via a bond structure (or similar), and so on and so forth.... I feel a more creative and EU compliant solution is possible....

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There was another way

I think Jam really missed an opportunity to provide a set of content and applications that the industry can't because it's uneconomic - the more creative and inspiring stuff that doesn't fit the national curriculum, or just maybe in other languages - Welsh has been mentioned.

'The industry' has to be focussed on quite a narrow area of development because of the box-ticking ethos - the BBC could have developed the same approach it has to say, comedy and drama and gone really experimental and interesting <sigh>

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