BBC cuts 25% from online budget

The BBC is to reduce spending at its Online division by 25 per cent with streamlined structure for the division and the cut of 360 posts from 1,600.

Under the restructure BBC Online will be categorised into 10 areas: News, Sport, Weather, CBeebies, CBBC, Knowledge & Learning, Radio & Music, TV & iPlayer, Homepage and Search. The BBC Online service licence budget will be reduced by £34 million (€39), from £137 million now to £103 million by 2013/14.

In a statement, BBC director general Mark Thomson said: “I know these changes will be painful for affected staff. But I firmly believe that they are right for the BBC at this time.”

As previously announced the cuts will see the closure of around half of the BBC’s 400 top level domain-names. The BBC said today that 180 would close ahead of schedule later this year, and that the majority of programme websites will be filled with automated content.

The BBC said the cuts will see a “substantial reduction” in the amount of showbusiness news on the BBC News site, plus a reduction in the amounts of sports news and live sport covered. It also confirmed its commitment to engage with the wider industry twice a year about its plans, and to double the number of referrals to external websites by 2013/14 to around 22 million each month.

As part of the announcement, the BBC also laid out a list of the things it would not be doing in future, including launching its own social network, becoming a VoD aggregator in iPlayer or offering specialist news content.

“BBC Online lies at the heart of the BBC’s digital future,” said Mark Thomson, Director General.
“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.”

The BBC is announcing a set of closures and reductions as follows:

    • The closure of half of the 400 Top Level Domains (with 180 closing ahead of schedule later this year)
    • The replacement of the majority of programme websites with automated content
    • The automation of bespoke digital radio sites 1Xtra, 5 live sports extra, 6 Music and Radio 7
    • The closure of RAW, Blast, Switch, Video Nation and the disposal of h2g2
    • The removal of non-News features content from Local sites
    • A substantial reduction in showbusiness news on the News website
    • Fewer News blogs, with more focus on the updates from leading editors and correspondents
    • A reduction in the overall amount of Sports news and live sport
    • Standalone forums, communities and message-boards and blogs to be reduced and replaced with integrated social tools
    • The closure of the 606 community site and the closure of the BBC iPlayer message board

BBC Online will not:

    • Launch its own social network
    • Offer specialist news content for specialist audiences
    • Publish local listings
    • Develop encyclopaedic propositions in Knowledge
    • Provide continuing professional development materials for teachers or a managed learning environment for schools
    • Become a video-on-demand aggregator in BBC iPlayer, although it will link to other on-demand providers
    • Produce online-only music sessions
    • Offer track-by-track music streaming
    • Invest in exclusive online sports rights

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