BBC will shut The Archers and two 6 Music message boards

The Archers message board snapshot The closure of The Archers message board has been met with criticism

The BBC is shutting down three message boards on the same day. The Archers message board and two 6 Music message boards will be shut on February 25.

It leaves only three message boards on BBC Online. The closures are related to DQF cuts announced two years ago.

The decision to shut The Archers message board has generated a flood of negative comments and speculative stories in the press after it was announced on Monday.

Radio 4's interactive editor Nigel Smith posted a blog explaining the reasons for the closure on The Archers website, which so far has generated over 200 comments since its publication.

The news was also broken via a discussion thread on the message board, a thread which has now had close to 600 replies.

Smith told users that the closure was related to diminishing traffic. 'While there are around 10,000 regular visitors to the message board, the number of people who contribute actively has dropped below a thousand,' he wrote on Monday.

The same reason was given for closing 6 Music's message boards - one for Gideon Coe's show and one for Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone.

A senior 6 Music producer posted a message on Sunday that said: 'We care passionately about interacting with our listeners and giving people a platform to share their opinions. However, as you may have noticed, it's pretty quiet on these boards, and has been for some time.'

The closure of the 6 Music discussion forums, unlike the one for The Archers, has gone unnoticed.

Cuts to Online

The BBC has been moving away from message boards for some years, a strategy which can partly be explained by cuts of 25% to BBC Online announced as a result of DQF.

Ian Hunter, the former managing editor of BBC Online, explained the strategy on the BBC Internet Blog in 2011.

'Sites that have only a peripheral connection with our editorial purposes, don't significantly enhance our content or only engage small audiences can't any longer justify the resources they need.

'This is why we have closed a number of message boards in the past year or so. This process will continue, selectively,' he wrote.

All radio message boards have now closed, with only two related to specific BBC output, both of them hosted by Points of View.

Learning English also has a message board, bringing the total to three across BBC Online.

A BBC spokesperson said: 'There are currently no plans to close the Points of View message boards.'

It's not certain what, if anything, will happen to Learning English.

'Depressing'

One comment posted on The Archers website expressed dismay: 'Depressing. About money, I suppose. Can you tell me how many new programmes will be able to be commissioned - or how many jobs will be lost - through the closure of this wonderful talking space?'

Many comments voiced the belief that the popular message board is being shut down because of censorship. 'I can only conclude that the BBC does not like the way certain storylines have been received here,' said one.

Smith pointed message board users to other places where they could discuss the programme, including Facebook and Twitter.

But many people on the discussion forum said they didn't have Facebook and Twitter accounts and weren't planning to get them.

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