BBC Online To Shed 360 Jobs, Cut Budget By £34m

As part of its root and branch cutbacks, the BBC was widely expected to reduce its presence in online media. But the extent of the cuts is still quite shocking. In a document released last week, the corporation said it plans to reduce the budget for BBC Online by a quarter, axing 360 posts.

The BBC says it will deliver “a better quality service based on the BBC’;s five editorial priorities”. It will reduce Top Level Domains and base its activities around 10 distinctive products: News, Sport, Weather, CBeebies, CBBC, Knowledge & Learning, Radio & Music, TV & iPlayer, Homepage and Search. “Each of them will share common technical features such as consistent design, improved navigation, and the ability for licence fee payers to personalise and access them across a range of devices.”

The BBC’;s reduced activity will be welcomed by commercial rivals, which claim the pubcaster has been too aggressive in online, emasculating their own investment. They will also welcome the BBC’;s “pledge to engage with industry twice a year about its plans and action to double referrals to external websites by 2013/14 to 22m a month.”

BBC director-general Mark Thompson says the stream-lined approach will enable the corporation to achieve greater focus: “As in TV and radio, licence fee payers look to the BBC to inform, educate and entertain them online. As digital technologies advance, internet delivery of content becomes more important and more profound in our lives. BBC Online is a huge success, but our vast portfolio of websites means we sometimes fall short of expectation. A refocusing on 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.”

Thompson acknowledged that the changes “will be painful for affected staff. But I firmly believe that they are right for the BBC at this time.” Among things the BBC says it will not do are: launch its own social network, offer specialist news content for specialist audiences, publish local listings, become a video-on-demand aggregator in BBC iPlayer and invest in exclusive online sports rights. In financial terms, the cuts will see BBC Online’;s licence budget reduced by £34m from £137m today to £103m by 2013/14. It’;s not clear yet what the implications are for indie content suppliers.

Share this Article