YOU MIGHT have to say goodbye to some of your favourite BBC websites as the UK public broadcaster has decided to close down a fair whack of them.
The BBC has announced that it has reduced its budget for online presence by a quarter, or some 360 websites.
No one likes to hear that jobs will be lost, except perhaps directors and accountants, and so it was with an air of solemnity that Mark Thompson, director general of the BBC, acknowledged that it would be painful for those affected.
He 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...."
He continued, "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."
Suggestions that the BBC could have overstretched itself are nothing new, and today the UK broadcaster, which currently offers such interesting programming as "Hotter Than My Daughter", and "Snog, Marry Avoid" on its drunken slumber channel BBC3, will close around half of its 400 website domains and replace a lot of content on others with automated garbling.
What impact this will have on their quality remains to be seen. Cynics might suggest that it will increase programme quality dramatically. But then they would say that, wouldn't they?
Local websites will be reduced as straight news outlets and will presumably lose whatever it was about them that made them local. Meanwhile news in general will have less information about celebrities, which sounds like the biggest contribution to news reporting since the invention of the printing press.
As well as saying what it will do, the BBC has also announced what it won't be doing. This list starts with the admission that it will not launch a social notworking website - although why anyone would ever have suggested that is a mystery - and it continues, letting licence fee payers know that they won't be funding any music streaming services, publishing any local listings, or developing "encyclopaedic propositions in knowledge".
We would add "whatever that means", but we take it to refer to the H2G2 website that was set up by Hitchhikers Guide author Douglas Adams as a constantly expanding, user-generated guide to life, the universe and everything. Something that, going by its listings, BBC3 is not.
Overall, the BBC Online service licence budget will be reduced by £34 million from the £137 million it stands at today to a not inconsiderate £103 million by 2013-14.
You might think that £103 million is still a lot of money, and you would be right, it is, so how the BBC could not find enough in its budget to keep RAW, its life skills website that has an introduction by a cricketeer, alive, is still a blessed mystery to us. µ
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