BBC pursues digital agenda by sacking 360, cutting iPlayer radio

Aunty Beeb has announced that she will be saying goodbye to around 360 employees and closing hundreds of websites.

The corporation has said the changes are part of “a more streamlined” approach to its online service.

The Beeb’s online budget will be cut by 25 percent, bringing down the £137 million spend to £103 million by 2013.

The victims of the cut will be half of the BBC’s 400 “top line” domains, which will be closed and replaced with automated content. According to BBC executive Roly Keating, this is because the Beeb “just don’t need them” any more.

Among the services that will disappear are the youth-orientated BBC Switch, Video Nation and a number of forums, blogs and message boards currently being run by the corporation including the 606 community football site. There will also be a reduction in the amount of sports news.

The cuts will include changes to the iPlayer as well as major shifts into more localised news and sport. The iPlayer will also feel more naked pain as it is to be stripped of radio content. Users looking for this in the future will instead be taken to the radio and music channels.

Director-general Mark Thompson acknowledged the changes would be “painful” but insisted BBC Online “lies at the heart” of the corporation’s digital future.

He said in a statement: “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.” 

He added that the online service had grown “organically” and there needed to be a reduction in its “scope and scale”.

The job losses include 70 journalism positions, 24 in sport and around 90 in BBC Vision.