With an aim towards cutting its online department’s budget 25% by 2013, the BBC has announced that it will be cutting 360 posts over the next two years.
UPDATE: UK trade publication Broadcast says the BBC World Service will also be axing 650 jobs over two years, with two-thirds of the cuts coming in the first 12 months. Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, the Caribbean and Portuguese services for Africa are among those to be culled. Broadcast says a full statement from the BBC is expected tomorrow.
BBC management says that under its new “unified structure,” BBC Online will exist as 10 distinct products: News, Sport, Weather, CBeebies, CBBC, Knowledge & Learning, Radio & Music, TV & iPlayer, Homepage and Search. Among the sites that will be trimmed in the cull are Video Nation, an online portal for short documentaries “about everyday life across the UK,” RAW, and the youth-oriented Blast and Switch online channels.
In addition, the 606 community site and the iPlayer message board will be closed. BBC management says its online department will not launch its own social network, and that blogs, stand-alone forums, message boards and communities will be reduced and replaced with “integrated social tools.”
The new editorial focus for BBC Online will offer up-to-the-minute news with rich multimedia content, more arts and culture coverage in the entertainment and arts section of the BBC News portal, a single offering in Knowledge and Learning, and a unified television offering for the iPlayer, combining TV channels, program info and live and on-demand content. Roly Keating, director of archive content for the BBC, will act as editorial lead for the Online Direction Group (ODG).
“BBC Online is a huge success, but our vast portfolio of websites means we sometimes fall short of expectation,” said BBC director general Mark Thompson in a statement. “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,” he continued. “But I firmly believe that they are right for the BBC at this time.”