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BBC begins web cuts

May 17, 2016

The BBC’s online activities will focus on six flagship areas after a review to ensure they remain high quality and distinctive.

The review was launched last autumn and led by James Harding, Director of BBC News and Current Affairs. It reaffirms that the BBC’s purpose online is to provide a distinctive public service that informs, educates and entertains. According to the BBC, it confirms that the public think it important that the BBC offers online services, and that much of what is there is already clearly distinct from the market.

It concludes that to continue to be truly distinctive in the future – and fulfil the BBC’s mission to inform, educate and entertain in the digital age – BBC Online will focus on six flagship areas:

  • Trusted, impartial and accurate news – BBC News
  • The best in live sports coverage and sports news – BBC Sport
  • Where UK children come to learn and play in safety – iPlay and BBC Bitesize
  • High quality entertainment that enriches our lives – BBC iPlayer and BBC iPlayer Radio
  • The best of arts and culture, history and science – the Ideas Service
  • Historic moments, national events – BBC Live

The BBC says it has has been at the forefront of UK digital broadcasting for 20 years, being among the first to offer online news and blazing a trail for on-demand TV through BBC iPlayer. But the online market is global and the BBC only accounts for around a 4.5 per cent share of UK adults’ time online compared to Facebook’s 20 per cent.

This Online Creative Review sets out a route to a more focused and distinctive service. By cutting back the spread of websites, apps and other operations it will deliver a total saving of more than £15 million, or 15 per cent of the service’s editorial spend.

In the next 12 months the following services will either be closed or scaled down, subject to any regulatory approval required. We will:

  • Close the iWonder service, but redeploy its formats across BBC Online
  • Close the BBC’s Food website. BBC Worldwide’s Good Food site will remain
  • Focus on distinctive long-form journalism online under a Current Affairs banner and close the online News Magazine
  • Integrate Newsbeat output into BBC News Online, but close the separate Newsbeat site and app
  • Continue to offer travel news online as part of BBC News but close the Travel site and halt development of the Travel app
  • Stop running local news index web pages, offering instead an open stream on our rolling guide to BBC and local news provider stories, ‘Local Live’
  • Remove ring-fenced funding for iPlayer-only commissions
  • Reduce funding for Connected Studio, the digital innovation programme, with innovation increasingly funded within business-as-usual and the Studio maintained as an enabler of innovation
  • Reduce digital radio and music social media activity and additional programme content that is not core to services

“The Internet requires the BBC to redefine itself, but not its mission: the BBC’s purpose online is to provide a distinctive public service that informs, educates and entertains,” said Harding. “The Review sets out what we want to be famous for online: trusted news; the place where children come to learn and play; high quality entertainment; live sports coverage and sports news; arts and culture, history and science; and historic moments, national events. And we are going to focus our energy on these six areas: BBC News; iPlay and BBC Bitesize; BBC iPlayer and BBC iPlayer Radio; BBC Sport; the Ideas Service; and BBC Live. We will stop doing some things where we’re duplicating our work, for example on food, and scale back services, such as travel, where there are bigger, better-resourced services in the market.”

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