BBC to close half of its website in cutbacks proposal

26 Feb 2010

UK broadcasting giant BBC is to shut down half of its website, close two radio stations and cut spending on imported programming, it emerged.

The moves have been instigated by BBC director general Mark Thompson, who says the corporation, which is funded by the stg£3.6-billion annual licence fee, has become too large.

As part of a strategic review, Thompson is to announce the closure of the digital radio stations 6 Music and Asian Network and will cap spending on broadcast rights for sports events.

The BBC will also close BBC Switch and Blast!, which will leave the lucrative TV market wide open for ITV and Channel 4. The Beeb will also reduce its spend on foreign content acquisitions, such as Mad Men and Heroes.

The proposals, which are being considered by the corporation’s governing body BBC Trust, will involve stg£600 million being redirected into higher quality content.

The BBC’s webpages are to be halved, backed by a 25pc cut in staff numbers and its stg£112-million budget will be cut by 25pc.

The BBC will pledge to include more links to newspaper articles to drive traffic to the websites of publishers.

Last week, the BBC Trust was urged by the Newspaper Publishers Association (NPA) to block the corporation’s plans to launch phone apps for its news and sports content.

The NPA said the corporation would damage the “nascent market” for apps and “trample over the aspirations of commercial news providers.”

The BBC has plans to launch its first news app on the iPhone in April, followed by a sports app.

By John Kennedy

Photo: BBC’s website

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years