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BBC's Today Programme shutters message board

Flagship radio news organ enrages pants-wearing web commentariat

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BBC Radio 4 news flagship The Today Programme said today it will axe its online message boards at the end of this month, prompting anger and charges of censorship from users.

Editorial changes to the board's rules in 2006 blocked listeners from creating threads on topics of their choice, which one commenter on the closure today wrote had turned a "thriving", and "lively" forum into a "dead hulk".

Others suggested that interventions by right-wing extremists, including the BNP, had wrecked the site. It wouldn't be the first time such a mob has caused the BBC headaches online.

Many raged at the decision to silence the Today community, however. "The closure of this board without the merest attempt at consultation with those of us who use it is nothing more, nor less, than naked, unapologetic censorship. We would expect this kind of thing in China or the old Soviet Union," commenter "barkochba" wrote, accusing the BBC of "Liberal Left" bias.

A spokeswoman categorically denied that the decision to shut the board is related to anything posted by right-wing users.

Today said the closure will be part of a wider revamp to integrate its site more closely with the main BBC News Online pages. Users will be encourage to post their views to the tightly-edited "Have Your Say" section instead, it added.

Having only one interactive comment site would allow people to express their views to a wider audience make savings for the BBC, the spokeswoman said. She refused to say how much money the closure would claw back. ®

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