The BBC yesterday announced plans to cut spending on their online services by 25%, resulting in a loss of 360 jobs. The cuts are a part of the BBCs plan to cut overall spending by almost 20%, following a license fee settlement in October that froze the current cost of a TV license for the next six years.
Among the casualties include community sites 606 and h2g2, as well as teenage website Switch and Bait. While iPlayer is minimally affected, there will be a shift away from staff-written content on programme-specific pages towards automated content, as well as on lesser-known radio station pages such as 5 Live and 1Xtra. In terms of main content, the cuts will see the news pages filled with less celebrity and sports news, but instead more of a focus will be placed on art and culture news. Features and editorials from local news sections will be scrapped entirely. In total, 180 websites are expected to close their doors.
The BBC defended the move as being a way of reducing its online presence to avoid competition with commercial websites. Director of archive content Roly Keating said "we just dont need" the scrapped sites, adding that the website as a whole should become easier to navigate. As a part of the cuts, the BBC also hope to reach 22 million external referral links per month by 2013.
The cuts have seen backlash from the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), of whom secretary Jeremy Dear said in a statement:
The attack on BBC jobs and online services shows the BBCs contempt for hard-working staff. It makes no sense to cut back the BBC website as increasing numbers of people rely on the internet. The NUJ will not stand by idly if members are forced out of their jobs.
The majority of changes are expected to be made within a year from February 2013.