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Websites face axe in search for 'sufficient public value'

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The BBC is to cull those parts of its online service which do not add "sufficient public value" and "reprioritise this investment into services that do", according to the Beeb's new media and technology supremo, Ashley Highfield. He called the changes - instigated by the Corporation's board of govenors in response to the findings of the Graf report - a "new era" for bbc.co.uk.

According to BBC News the main points of the plan are:

  • At least 25 per cent of the BBC's online content to be supplied externally by 2006 (although the BBC news website and related news services will be exempt from the requirement to outsource content delivery)
  • Deliver greater public value through the online medium
  • Link bbc.co.uk to more external, high-quality third-party content
  • Ensure bbc.co.uk makes a substantial contribution to towards a 100 per cent digital UK
  • Make bbc.co.uk easier for users to find their way around and to give feedback to the BBC
  • Make the BBC's archives easier to access
  • Commit to commissioning a major independent review of bbc.co.uk in three years' time

Five BBC websites closed immediately following publication of the Graf report, including What's On listings site, Fantasy Football, the Games and Surfing portals and the Pure Soap site. The next round of cuts will be announced before Xmas and will mean that bbc.co.uk intends intends to make overall cuts of around 10 per cent of its budget.

Speaking at the CBI conference in Birmingham, BBC chairman Michael Grade said: "We are publishing new, much more tightly drawn objectives. They focus on how bbc.co.uk can be made more distinctive, and deliver more public value, in this developing and growing market. We've reviewed our portfolio of websites and closed down some sites because they would not meet out new test of public value. There are further closures and spending reallocations within online to come as we specify what we won't do, as well as what we will." ®

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