FFHSs NEWS: Has the ITV Takeover Affected the Online, UK, 1901 Census Service?

04:02PM GMT - Wednesday, 07 December 2005

Contributed by: Michael Bunting FSG

You will already be aware that QinetiQ recently sold its rights as licensee for the UK 1901 census online to Friends Reunited. It was confirmed today that ITV has bought Friends Reunited, and with it the right to operate the UK 1901 census service.

The acquisition, according to news reports, comes as part of an Internet spending spree by media companies such as Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. as they attempt to counteract sluggish advertisement sales in traditional areas such as television. Other companies vying for Friends Reunited apparently included UK publishers Trinity Mirror and Daily Mail & General Trust. The report on the http://news.bbc.co.uk website concludes by saying that "ITV has high hopes for the Genes Reunited strand within Friends Reunited. The site, which allows people to trace their family tree, has 46 million registered members."

The Head of Online Services & Strategic Marketing at The National Archives has advised us they have been assured that ITV are extremely committed to maintaining and expanding the UK 1901 census service , and they are confident that ITV will be excellent licensees. Indeed, they understand that Friends Reunited's expansion into genealogy was one of the main attractions for ITV.

The FFHS has been invited to put any specific questions we may have to either party. So, if any member society has serious concerns or queries about the future operation of the UK 1901 census service, as a result of the purchase of Friends Reunited by ITV, please let me know.

Geoff Riggs,
Director of Computer & Internet Facilities,
Federation of Family History Societies

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