New BBC Online licence confirms reduced service

The BBC Trust has published its revised service licence for BBC Online following a strategic review of the service earlier this year.

In January the Trust announced a 25 per cent cut to the BBC Online budget, resulting in the loss of 360 jobs and the closure of almost half of the BBC's 400 websites.

The revised service licence for BBC Online sets its 2011/12 budget at £120m. The report states: 'Any planned or actual change in annual expenditure on the service of more than 10 per cent in real value requires approval from the BBC Trust and may entail variation of this service licence.

'This parameter of change is set to allow variations in spending which arise from regular, cyclical factors such as spending on major sports events, a reasonable level of operational flexibility and changes in accounting policy."

The revised service licence also reaffirms the BBC's commitment to avoid encroaching on web services offered by the commercial sector, after last summer's pledge not to increase its competition with local newspapers.

The report states: 'Nations and local sites should aim to work effectively with other providers of local information, sourcing or sharing content and providing clear links from each BBC site to other local media and information providers.'

The BBC says it it is the fifth biggest referrer of web traffic to UK-newspaper websites, and that it is committed to increasing the number of external links from its local news sites. Part of the Trust's strategy is to double the number of current click-throughs to third party internet destinations to around 22m per month.

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