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BBC culls Cult website

'Who's the bozo who made this decision?'

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The BBC has decided - as part of its "restructuring of the BBC's online activities" - to pull the plug on its hugely popular Cult website.

Those not familiar with Cult should mosey on down and have shufti. Readers who already enjoy its eclectic mix should read the following with horror:

This site shuts next month. Bye, then!

Sadly, as part of the restructuring of the BBC's online activities, this site is closing at the end of the month.

We're trying to find alternative bbc.co.uk homes for some sites, but much of the content will be removed from the servers, and that which remains will not be maintained.

We'd like to thank all our users (700,000 of you last month!), and to everyone who expressed an opinion of us in the BBC's Online Audience survey (we nearly came top - beaten only by those pesky News people).

The team have had a wonderful six years looking after the site, and hope you continue to enjoy the BBC's online offerings.

PS: Don't worry about the Doctor Who site. It's safe.

That's right - 700,000 people a month, so obviously it has to go. What's more, much of the material faces deletion. Marvellous. As one irate punter puts it: "Who's the bozo who made this decision?"

Who indeed? Here are some more outraged comments from Cult fans:

I haven't been this upset since they cancelled Farscape. How much does it cost to take out an full-page ad in The Radio Times? I mean, 700,000 hits a month, the second most popular BBC site, a revivial in cult television, loads of cult bbc products being released on a daily basis - it's crazy. I'm really annoyed about this - is there something - anything - we can do?

Yes there is, according to Idoru:

I'd like to suggest that everyone who has posted here, and who has yet to post, send a complaint to the BBC regarding the closing of the Cult website as part of any restructuring. Michael Grade, BBC chairman, stated: "The real test of any organisation is how it deals with complaints from the public." So let's put to the test how reactive the corporation are. They define a complaint as: "[we] consider something a complaint if it is a criticism which expects a reply and would like things to be changed." We'd clearly like this decision changed and I for one expect a reply ;) The complaints procedure and contact details are outlined here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/

Agreed. Let's see how Auntie deals with complaints from the public. Go to it. ®

Bootnote

For the record, here is the BBC's official response to complaints already received, dated 29 June:

We recognise that the Cult website has attracted a large following. However, efficiency savings are needed to pay for new projects which will ensure that the BBC continues to offer distinctive and innovative services, so it is necessary to close this site.

As Ashley Highfield, Director of New Media, explained in December "..to meet the 10% target set out by the BBC Governors, we are announcing today a further 7.5% reduction to be achieved through lowering investment in areas where we feel this will not cause a reduction in public value... These changes build on the first steps we took in July to close those websites which we felt did not offer sufficient distinctive public value for the investment required. The savings we made in July represented 2.5% of our web output."

Furthermore, the BBC outlined in November its commitment to offer more distinctive content. We felt that many areas covered by the Cult site were already being replicated on other areas of the web. This meant there was very little distinction between the BBC and the commercial sector.

The exception to this is Dr Who, the largest of our Cult sites, which has now evolved into its own website, as an extension of the hugely successful BBC One TV series. We hope users will continue to visit and enjoy this site.

And there's more...

We've just received this email from Doug at bbc.co.uk Customer Service, which we reprint with pleasure:

Whilst we are not commenting on the proposed closure of the cult site, could we clarify a point made in a quote from one of the users of the website? The quote is question is " I mean, 700,000 hits a month, the second most popular BBC site"

The bbc.co.uk/cult does have 700,000 unique users a month, however this does not mean it is the 2nd most popular BBC website. Indeed some bbc.co.uk sites get 700,000 hits in a few hours. The Cult site came second in the BBC's Online Audience Appreciation Survey, which was voted by users of the bbc.co.uk, which is where I believe a misunderstanding has occurred.

We appreciate the opportunity to clear up this misunderstanding and to assure you that we are listening to the feedback given to us.

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