Deep cuts result from BBC strategic review, claims report

The BBC will close two radio stations, halve the size of its website, dispose of its magazines and aim to ease the nerves of regional newspaper groups through a commitment to never increasing the localness of its services beyond the current level, a report has claimed.

The massive overhaul of its output, due to be announced next month, will see director general admit that the BBC has become too large, The Times reported today, and say it must be reined in so that commercial media businesses can operate more easily.

According to the report, the BBC’s strategic review will result it cutting half its web output; reducing its online staff by a quarter as a quarter is also slashed from its £112m annual web budget.

In addition, music station 6 Music and the Asian Network will close, with programmes from the latter possibly switched to local Asian radio stations as the BBC turns its attention to focusing on quality output rather than quantity.

The Times claims that BBC Magazines could be disposed as BBC Worldwide, the corporation’s commercial wing, is ordered to focus activities overseas.

It remains unclear if Worldwide would be forced to sell its magazine division or to offer its titles, which include the Radio Times, Top Gear magazine and the controversial Lonely Planet travel title, to rival publishers.

Local newspaper groups, which fiercely contested now-dropped plans for a £68m BBC local video network in 2008, could also benefit from greater linking to their website by the BBC.

Job cuts at BBC Nations & Regions may be likely if plans to use syndicated content during non-peak hours radio hours are also adopted.

A BBC spokeswoman told Press Gazette the corporation “would not comment on speculation”.

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