The BBC announced this week it will halve its web output and close two DAB radio stations as part of plans by director-general Mark Thompson to scale back the Corporation’s reach.

BBC: Scaling back online content to focus on news, music, drama and comedy

Its strategy review said it will halve the size of bbc.co.uk by closing lower performing sites and reduce its budget and staff by a quarter by 2012. Digital radio stations 6Music and BBC Asian Network will close.

The BBC, which has been viewed as a threat to commercial rivals − last month the Newspaper Publishers Association attacked BBC plans to launch news and sport iPhone apps − said it will focus on five content priorities: the best journalism in the world; inspiring knowledge, music and journalism; ambitious UK drama and comedy; outstanding children’s content; and events that bring communities and the nation together.

The broadcaster said it aims to connect more with external sites. It will provide at least one external link on every page and has set a target to double the number of monthly click-throughs to external sites from 10m.

The report follows a strategic review ordered by chairman of the BBC Trust Sir Michael Lyons. Companies have until 25 May to respond to the proposals.

The BBC will then be expected to put formal proposals to the Trust for those specific changes that follow from this strategy and require approval. Any changes will be subject to full regulatory scrutiny.

Industry response

JAMES BROMLEY, MD, Mail Online
We’re looking forward to seeing how this is implemented. The BBC has said for a number of years that it will increase traffic to third-party sites, but this hasn’t been forthcoming. One of the challenges for the BBC is reducing the gap between starting a strategy and implementing it.

JOHN MCVAY, CEO, PACT
Cutting spend on bbc.co.uk could hit the external supplier community and could hurt the development of the UK digital production industry. Its existing 25% external supplier spend quota isn’t huge and we’re not even convinced it hits that. To have bbc.co.uk as little more than a billboard for its programmes is stepping back too far.

IAN TWINN, Public affairs director, ISBA
This is a move in the right direction. I think this will have some impact in providing opportunities for the commercial sector to operate online, but who knows if it’s the right amount to cut or not? Most people enjoy BBC News and appreciate its global reach, but it has been the move beyond news that has put noses out of joint.

BBC.co.uk goals

Halve top-level sections by 2012

  • Sites being closed include actingup, amiafreak, celebdaq, sportdaq, bbcpartners, jamiekane, lastmillionaire, naturestop40, openweekend
  • Mothballed sites being closed include amazingmrspritchard, streetdoctor, keyskills, strictlydancefever, filmfestival and underdogshow
  • Some sites, such as spooks and robinhood, being consolidated under larger propositions, such as history or drama
  • BBC News Online to focus on generalist audience
  • Entertainment news to focus on serious agenda with stronger coverage of media industry, culture and the arts
  • Restricting local sites in England to news, sport, weather, travel and local knowledge to support initiatives like Coast
  • Fewer bespoke programme sites in the knowledge category, consolidating remaining sites within fewer categories such as nature
  • Removing generic content in areas like recipes and movies, replaced with content featured on BBC programmes

Share benefits of scale more effectively and connect more actively with the rest of the web

  • At least one external link on every page
  • Double the number of monthly click-throughs to external sites from 10m

Set new boundaries

  • Only produce local material in its core editorial areas of news, sport, travel, weather and local knowledge
  • No increase of local services online
  • Search activity limited to BBC website and associated external links
  • No general communications services such as email, webmail or instant messaging
  • Not create standalone social networking sites. Any social activity to work with external social networks
  • No specialist content, such as business-critical information in specialist fields, legal, financial or other professional content
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Published 4 March, 2010 by NMA Staff

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