The BBC yesterday announced the closure of several web sites and the re-allocation of funds into broadband initiatives. The move followed a spending review by new media director Ashley Highfield, and an independent review of the BBC's internet activities conducted this summer by former Trinity Mirror chief executive Phil Graf.
The closure of five web sites - including Fantasy Football, the central What's On events listing guide and the Pure Soap site - was announced in July on the grounds that they were insufficiently distinct.
Yesterday, Highfield said they would be followed, for similar reasons, by:
In a move calculated to please the UK's regional press, Highfield said the BBC's web operation would no longer carry local entertainment listings. Regional press owners had complained that the corporation's local listings were eating into classified advertising revenues.
Instead, the local BBC web sites will link to local listings provided by regional newspapers and local radio stations.
The moves will result in savings of around £6m by 2005/2006, which will be reinvested in new projects. A BBC spokesman told Lovelacemedia that no redundancies were planned. "Money saved will be invested in other new media projects that will need to be staffed," he added.
Those projects - which seek to provide licence fee payers with ever-more distinctive content - include services such as the Creative Archive, which will provide free access to factual and learning programme clips via broadband, and the interactive media player, offering access to BBC television programmes broadcast within the past seven days.
Highfield said the move was "all about focusing our investment so that we can best use our funding to reach and delight the largest audiences with the most distinctive and original content". The move was also "about preparing ourselves for the broadband world".
Meanwhile, the BBC said its international news site - bbcnews.com - was among the top 10 online news sites in the US, according to an online survey by research group TNS.
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