£15m BBC online cuts announced including: Newsbeat, Food, News Magazine and Travel

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The BBC has announced it will be closing a number of online services including the Food website, the online News Magazine and the website and app for Radio One news bulletin service Newsbeat while reducing others.

In total the corporation, which was the subject of a Government white paper just last week, said it will make £15m in annual savings through cuts to digital offerings, equal to 15 per cent of online editorial spend.

It said its online services accounted for 4.5 per cent of a UK adult’s time online compared with 20 per cent taken up by social media platform Facebook.

The cuts follow a review into the corporation’s online activities, launched last autumn and led by director of BBC news and current affairs James Harding.

As a result of the review the BBC has said it will focus on six “flagship areas” including:

  • Trusted, impartial and accurate news through BBC News
  • The best in live sports coverage and sports news through BBC Sport
  • Where UK children come to learn and play in safety through iPlay and BBC Bitesize
  • High quality entertainment that enriches our lives through BBC iPlayer and BBC iPlayer Radio
  • The best of arts and culture, history and science through the Ideas Service
  • Historic moments, national events through BBC Live.

Targeted services will be closed altogether or have their operations reduced within the next 12 months, subject to any regulatory approval required.

Newsbeat’s digital output will be “integrated” into BBC News Online while the BBC Worldwide’s Good Food site at bbcgoodfood.com will remain as bbc.co.uk/food closes.

A focus on “distinctive long-form journalism online” will continue under a “Current Affairs banner” as the online magazine is taken down.

The BBC has said it will no longer provide local news index web pages. Instead it will link to stories via the Local Live rolling news module, which sits on the top right of news pages showing links to news articles both by the broadcaster and other local news providers.

Travel news will be offered as part of BBC News but will no longer operate as a separate site, at bbc.co.uk/travel, and development of a Travel app has been halted.

Also to go is the iWonder service at bbc.co.uk/iwonder, which describes itself as offering “thought-provoking answers to fascinating questions sparked by BBC programmes, the news, anniversaries and world events”.

Ring-fenced funding for iPlayer-only commissions will also be removed while funding for Connected Studio, which offers digital innovation workshops, will face reduced funding.

Digital radio and social media activity around music deemed “not core to services” will be reduced.

Harding said: “The internet requires the BBC to redefine itself, but not its mission: the BBC’s purpose online is to provide a distinctive public service that informs, educates and entertains.

“The Review sets out what we want to be famous for online: trusted news; the place where children come to learn and play; high quality entertainment; live sports coverage and sports news; arts and culture, history and science; and historic moments, national events.

He added: “We will stop doing some things where we’re duplicating our work, for example on food, and scale back services, such as travel, where there are bigger, better-resourced services in the market.”

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