BBC to cut web operation in half with 200 jobs to go
The Daily Telegraph quotes a senior manager saying that in real terms at least 200 jobs will be lost although overall 350 posts will be eliminated (150 are not currently filled).
The cuts to the BBC’s digital business will still leave it with a staff of more than 1,200 people although BBC director general Mark Thompson said that its budget is to be cut by 25%.
One area to be hit hard is BBC Local, the BBC’s network of news websites for areas such as Oxford, Humberside and Surrey. This could be good news for local commercial newspaper and radio groups. Last week culture and media secretary Jeremy Hunt proposed to kick start local TV at the Oxford Media Convention.
Today’s cuts have their origins in the last year’s BBC strategic review, which admitted that much online spend had gone on “bespoke programme websites”. It said in the future it will rely more on “automated programme pages”.
Last week the BBC announced that after nearly four years leading the BBC Future Media & Technology division, Erik Huggers, was to leave the BBC at the end of February and not be replaced. Huggers left to become Corporate Vice President and General Manager of Intel’s Digital Home Group, based at its Silicon Valley headquarters in California.
Following Hugger”s departure Thompson said the Future Media & Technology division would be reorganised into two distinct areas: 1) the development of its digital services to the public such as BBC iPlayer (Future Media) headed by Ralph Rivera, Digital Media Director; and, 2) the core, underlying technology which powers the BBC (Technology) headed by CTO John Linwood.
The cuts to the BBC will be followed by more cuts, this time to the BBC World Service. Those will come on Wednesday with chief, Peter Horrocks, saying as many as 300 jobs will go.
The cuts come as the Tory-led government slashes the BBC budget and forces it to support the World Service out of the licence fee from 2014 (it had previously been funded by the Foreign Office).
As part of its scaling back the BBC has been forced to sell BBC magazines with Bauer in the running to snap up the business.
UPDATE The BBC has now released the full details of its planned cuts, which have been approved by the BBC Trust and will see 360 posts eliminated and BBC Online transformed into 10 distinctive products: News, Sport, Weather, CBeebies, CBBC, Knowledge & Learning, Radio & Music, TV & iPlayer, Homepage and Search.
The closures and reductions are as follows:
- 1. The closure of half of the 400 Top Level Domains (with 180 closing ahead of schedule later this year)
- 2. The replacement of the majority of programme websites with automated content
- 3. The automation of bespoke digital radio sites 1Xtra, 5 Live Sports Extra, 6 Music and Radio 7
- 4. The closure of RAW, Blast, Switch, Video Nation and the disposal of h2g2
- 5. The removal of non-News features content from Local sites
- 6. A substantial reduction in showbusiness news on the News website
- 7. Fewer News blogs, with more focus on the updates from leading editors and correspondents
- 8. A reduction in the overall amount of Sports news and live sport
- 9. Stand-alone forums, communities and message boards and blogs to be reduced and replaced with integrated social tools
- 10. The closure of the 606 community site and the closure of the BBC iPlayer message board
- 1. Launch its own social network
- 2. Offer specialist news content for specialist audiences
- 3. Publish local listings
- 4. Develop encyclopaedic propositions in Knowledge
- 5. Provide continuing professional development materials for teachers or a managed learning environment for schools
- 6. Become a video-on-demand aggregator in BBC iPlayer, although it will link to other on-demand providers
- 7. Produce online-only music sessions
- 9. Offer track-by-track music streaming
- 10. Invest in exclusive online sports rights
Thompson said: “BBC Online lies at the heart of the BBC’s digital future. As in television 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 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.
“I know that these changes will be painful for affected staff. But I firmly believe that they are right for the BBC at this time.”