Scotland On Line reportedly is the biggest Internet company in Scotland. It is well known in genealogy circles as the owner of the The ScotlandsPeople Web site at http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk. This popular Web site provides information from the General Register Office for Scotland. ScotlandsPeople contains images of the pre-1855 Old Parish Registers of the Church of Scotland and of the post-1855 statutory register pages, all available on a fee basis.
DC Thomson, a large publishing group, was 50% owner of Scotland On Line. Now the family-owned publishing group has increased its ownership to 100%. The support of one of Scotland’s biggest media companies should lend stability to Scotland On Line, which has scaled back some of its operations after expanding during the dotcom boom. In the process, it has incurred more than £5m of debt, some of which has been written off.
Under a strategy devised three years ago, the firm has moved from creating Web sites about popular subjects such as football to more profitable niches such as genealogy and heritage. One of its most profitable businesses is the deal with the General Register Office for Scotland to provide family history details online.
As part of the deal, DC Thomson paid off £750,000 owed by Scotland On Line to AdvancedWave, which is partly owned by Hitachi, the Japanese electronics group. Scotland On Line 's most recent accounts show it owed a further £4.2m to DC Thomson and its subsidiary, Meadowside Leasing. The company declined to say whether either debt had been written off.