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BBC details plans to slash online services

by Pete Mason on 24 January 2011, 16:40

Tags: iPlayer, BBC

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qa36a

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When BBC Director General Mark Thompson announced last week that digital-chief Erik Huggers would be leaving for Intel, he mentioned that the sweeping cuts to the Corporation's online presence were afoot.

Now Thompson is back with full details on exactly what those cuts will entail. The plans are a part of the Beeb's overall strategy of 'Putting Quality First', which will trim the digital budget by a quarter - or £34 million - and prevent it from competing with similar commercial services.

The savings will come in part by a reduction in the number of discrete services on the BBCs website. Top-level domains (TLDs) will be halved to around 200 with 180 of those disappearing before the end of this year. The sites which are left will be reorganised into one of ten core product categories: News, Sport, Weather, CBeebies, CBBC, Knowledge & Learning, Radio & Music, TV & iPlayer, Homepage and Search.

The big changes will be the replacement of programme specific and digital radio channel websites with automated content and the closure of RAW, Blast, Switch, Video Nation and h2g2. There will also be fewer news blogs, less sports news and live sport, a reduction in the quantity of showbiz news and the closure of the 606 community site and iPlayer message boards.

Of course, the biggest cuts of all are to the 360 jobs that will cease to exist as a result of this plan. All of the changes are expected to come into effect sometime in the next two years.

Thompson explained the changes by saying that, "BBC Online is a huge success, but our vast portfolio of websites means we sometimes fall short of expectation. A refocusing on our editorial priorities, a commitment to the highest quality standards, and a more streamlined and collegiate way of working will help us transform BBC Online for the future."

"I know that these changes will be painful for affected staff. But I firmly believe that they are right for the BBC at this time," he added.



HEXUS Forums :: 18 Comments

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Once again, cutting staff and cutting services… soon we will be paying a huge amount for just bbc one….

Why cant they just stop giving managers/directors and all the overpaid celebs so much money!
Hicks12
….

Why cant they just stop giving managers/directors and all the overpaid celebs so much money!
That too, but I'd also question the benefit of the vast effort and expense in their online presence (and some of their other niche services), and whether it's damaging to fledgling competitors to be facing the monolith of the BBC.

Besides, there's enough dislike of the licence fee without it going up over the next few years, so it;s about time the BBC decided (or the government decided for them) just what they ought to be doing that's genuinely within their remit, and not seeking do do ever more stuff and then jacking up the licence fee to pay for it, from people who, short of going TV-less completely, having little legal alternative but to pay it.
For the the viewing public, I doubt this budget cut will make any difference.

I do love the Beeb, some fantastic programs.
They have 400 TLDs? I only know of a few, the main bbc, bbc world, and a few others i cant recall but i'm pretty sure are BBC.
Saracen
That too, but I'd also question the benefit of the vast effort and expense in their online presence (and some of their other niche services), and whether it's damaging to fledgling competitors to be facing the monolith of the BBC.
Much as I hate to disagree (even slightly) with an esteemed Hexus moderator :hexlub: I'm going to side with the commentators who have questioned why some of the axed sites have been dropped. The most notable example being h2g2 - okay, its like Wikipedia, but different enough to probably be worth retaining. And surely a clear case of “public service”?
There will also be a reduction in the overall amount of sports news, live sport and showbusiness news, but also more culture and arts coverage on the news website.
Local sites will additionally no longer publish non-news features content.
Presumably the live sport is being reduced because it's expensive, and “showbiz news” I can well do without - especially as most of it seems to be pimping BBC programs. :p

I'm kind of concerned though by the “more culture and arts on the news website” comment - elitism? Especially if it's coming at the expense of local interest stories - maybe the BBC needs to be reminded that not everyone is “lucky” enough to live in London, so some local interest stuff needs to be retained, big fan of the BBC local news online actually (although that's not threatened - at the moment).

As to the comment “whether it's damaging to fledgling competitors to be facing the monolith of the BBC” - funny that this is the same line trotted out by ITV at intervals, and by the Sky folks with increasing volume.