BBC Online curbed, mags to be sold 'at right price'

The BBC Trust today confirmed proposals to cut online spending by 25 per cent and to allow the closure of the Asian Network and the sell-off of BBC Worldwide’s magazines business.

The final conclusions of the Trust’s Strategy Review, launched two years ago, today stated that the BBC should aim to increase the quality of output in the director-general’s five priority areas of journalism; knowledge, music and culture; UK drama and comedy; children’s output and events that bring communities and the nation together.

But it confirmed plans to curb the ambitions of BBC Online, the part of the corporation which has garnered the most widespread criticism for encroaching on the commercial sector.

The Trust stated that ‘BBC activity in individual online markets’should be ‘clearly defined and justified in terms of its distinctiveness and its focus on the BBC’s public purposes”.

‘We will pursue a 25 per cent reduction in the BBC Online budget, to improve the overall quality and coherence of the service and ‘do fewer things better’. We expect to make an announcement soon about the nature of the changes involved.”

The Trust said it accepted ‘the case for disposing substantially of BBC Worldwide’s magazine Business”, but added the proviso; ‘if the right price can be found”.

The Trust also confirmed plans not to seek to competewith local newspapers more than it does already. It said: ‘We agree that in the current market, the BBC should not launch new services that are any more local than its current offerings, particularly now that it is committed to offer support to any future commercial providers of local television news.

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