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Reshaping BBC Online

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Erik Huggers Erik Huggers | 11:00 UK time, Monday, 24 January 2011

The BBC has always created and embraced emerging technologies to remain relevant. Text based journalism, through Ceefax, didn’t really feature in the BBC until the late 1970s, which later evolved into BBC Red Button and the BBC News website, the backbone of BBC Online. Today, BBC Online gives us a foothold in the connected digital age, and with 26 million users each week, it’s a broadly adopted and very popular service.

So what role should BBC Online play as we plan for the BBC’s future in a complex, changing global media landscape? The principles and purposes that served us for the last 80 years remain unchanged; as a public service broadcaster, the BBC’s appeal needs to be broad. The internet age has not changed what we’re for, but has changed the way we do it. Without the natural limitations of broadcasting spectrum it’s easy to lose focus. Couple this with the lack of a single unified, online strategy, you get sprawl - which amounts to patchy quality and a loss of identity.

This underpins our approach to BBC Online in Putting Quality First, a wide-ranging review of the BBC’s strategy, announced last March. It was approved by the BBC Trust in December. Today, the Trust have announced their approval of our plans for BBC Online, and we’ve been talking to staff about what this is going to mean for them, as well as explaining to the press what this means for the public.

A New Approach
This is about reducing the scale and scope of BBC Online, to focus the site on our five editorial priorities - halving the number of top-level directories and delivering a 25% reduction in budget by 2013. The relationship with the wider industry is also important. Focus creates clarity on what BBC Online will and won’t do - and we’ll be taking a more open approach on what we are doing, engaging with industry twice a year about our plans. Plus, we’ll double the number of referrals we send to third-party websites.

Doing Fewer Things, Better
When I last blogged about our plans in the Summer, I outlined how we intend to move from building one-off websites to managing products and some were unsure as to what I meant by a product.

Products are the common currency in many businesses - it’s how they package what they do to make them distinctive, competitive and attractive to customers. But it’s not the common currency at the BBC and the commercial connotations are at odds with the clear public purposes enshrined in programmes, the BBC’s currency.

BBC News and BBC iPlayer are two of our most popular websites, and it’s no coincidence that they are run as products already. Each has a clear sense of purpose and identity, each has a clear sense of what its audience wants from it and meets that audience need. Each combine our distinctive editorial voice with great technology and design. It’s this partnership and focus that makes them successful, so we want to capture this in everything we do.

Products also explain how we’ll be reorganising BBC Online. They become the reference point for budgets, targets and objectives, and lines of accountability. Each will have a converged technology and editorial team working in partnership at a product level.

Product is is not a word that we expect audiences to start using, but it does explain how we applied boundaries to the service as a whole, created a single, united strategy for the first time, and reorganised how we operate to make it a better service for audiences.

Maximising Distinctivenes Maximising distinctiveness

In order to decide where to focus, we looked at every website we have and applied three tests to each. First, do we really need this website to meet our public purposes? Second, to what degree does it help meet our five editorial priorities? And third, how does it differ from what else is out there in the market; is it distinctive?, and if not - should we be doing it all? Working these tests through iteratively, merging some websites, and looking objectively at how much each costs and how much it’s used and valued by the public - we ended up with ten products.

Fewer, Better Products

Doing fewer things better
News, Sport and Weather remain broadly the same technically, but with significant editorial changes (outlined below).News already combines technology, design and editorial to great effect and we’ll aim to replicate its success across the service. These three products continue to be the backbone of BBC Online.
CBeebies will consolidate its position as the best-loved and most trusted site for pre-school children and their parents.

Games will feature prominently; complementing the digital channel’s focus on learning through play. CBBC too is a place children, parents and schools can trust to provide a safe online experience.

BBC Knowledge has produced great factual programming for many years and websies like Bitesize have pioneered BBC online learning. But the current online knowledge websites are hard to navigate. The same is true of learning websites; fragmented and in parts lacking distinctiveness. Both can use the power of the web better to satisfy the curiosity of audiences wanting to discover and engage in new ways. Our plan is to merge all these sites into one cohesive product.
Fewer, better products

But perhaps the most significant changes are in how we approach TV and Radio online. We will continue to innovate and create great content built for the medium. But we are going to significantly consolidate the standalone, bespoke websites we have that surround our linear output to create just two new products; TV & iPlayer, and Radio & Music.

The BBC iPlayer has been through three major evolutions since its launch in 2007. The next will bring together the current drama, entertainment, comedy, TV, /programmes, /archive and /iPlayer websites in one product. This centres on the audiences’ primary needs of TV on the web: quick access to the programmes and programme information, but building more on the editorial power of our TV brands so it feels even more simple, intuitive and engaging for the audience.

While BBC iPlayer has been a good home for online radio, the way audiences want to interact with radio and music online is different to TV. Radio and music will come out of BBC iPlayer, and we’ll develop a new stand-alone product. All radio station sites, music events, podcasts and programme pages will be integrated to focus on highly interactive live radio, quick and seamless access to programming, support for new music and personalisation - on whatever internet-connected device you happen to have.
Homepage and Search bind all the products together. Both have an important functional role, guiding audiences around the service; but they perform important editorial roles as well. As the discovery engine for the BBC, the homepage is one of our most-used products and will be re-designed to reflect the new products, deliver nations “editions” and make all the products simple to use. Search has evolved from being a bolt-on technology to a BBC-built product delivering greatly improved targeted search results. As the service evolves, this too will become even more important in helping people find what they are looking for.
Editorial Focus
These plans outline a BBC Online that will get better, not just smaller. Within that, there are key things we want to focus upon:

  • High quality news focused on up-to-the-minute news updates backed up by rich multimedia content from correspondents across the UK and the world
  • BBC News Entertainment and Arts section will have more culture and arts coverage
  • Dynamic  ‘editions’ of BBC Online for each Nation
  • Clearer focus of local sites on news, sport, weather and travel
  • Sport will focus on fast, reliable and in-depth news and dynamic coverage of the best live events that bring the nation together
  • Safe, creative spaces for children 
  • A single merged offer in Knowledge & Learning, making the most of BBC content, from science to literacy, arts to maths – for adults pursuing a passion or brushing up a basic skill, and for children learning at home and school
  • Radio will focus on live output, and the discovery of new music as played and recommended by BBC DJs and iconic musicians
  • BBC iPlayer will be re-shaped into a unified television offer, bringing together TV channels, programme information and live and on-demand content
  • Selected archive content will be featured in TV & iPlayer and Radio & Music

Closures and Reductions
As a result there are some editorial areas we’ll be pulling back from, and some websites we’ll be closing completely.

  • The closure of half of the 400 Top Level Domains (with 180 closing ahead of schedule later this year)
  • The replacement of the majority of programme websites with automated content
  • The automation of bespoke digital radio sites 1Xtra, 5 live sports extra, 6 Music and Radio 7
  • The closure of RAW, Blast, Switch, Video Nation and the disposal of h2g2
  • The removal of non-News features content from Local sites
  • A substantial reduction in showbusiness news on the News website
  • Fewer News blogs, with more focus on the updates from leading editors and correspondents
  • A reduction in the overall amount of Sports news and live sport
  • Standalone forums, communities,  message-boards and blogs to be reduced and replaced with integrated social tools
  • The closure of the 606 community site and the closure of the BBC iPlayer message board

Where BBC Online will not go
Equally, there are areas which we will not cover, and have no intention of going into. BBC Online will not:

  • Launch its own social network
  • Offer specialist news content for specialist audiences
  • Publish local listings
  • Develop encyclopaedic propositions in Knowledge
  • Provide continuing professional development materials for teachers or a managed learning environment for schools
  • Become  a video-on-demand aggregator in BBC iPlayer, although it will link to other on-demand providers
  • Produce online-only music sessions Offer track-by-track music streaming
  • Invest in exclusive online sports rights

Common Functionality
As I outlined in the summer, common technical functionality means that products are supported by the same infrastructure, delivering operational efficiencies and a consistent experience throughout the service. It creates the means to login and personalise the site and links your login to social networks. It also allows the site to be repurposed for different devices, provides the templates for programme automation and hosts the BBC’s archive material.

Changes for Staff
This is a big change for the BBC and the staff working on BBC Online. In addition to the operational change of working to a product management culture, there will be a substantial number of post closures.

Subject to consultation with the Unions, we are proposing the closure of up to 360 posts, phased over the next two years.

They won’t fall equally across each BBC division. We estimate that 120 posts will close in Future Media & Technology, 70 posts in Journalism (News and Nations non-News), 85-90 in Vision, 35-39 in Audio & Music, 17 in Children’s and 24 in Sport. Though we aim to mitigate the redundancies by redeploying staff, this will be a difficult time for the staff affected – these cuts will be painful, but we believe they are necessary.

Looking Ahead
This is the first time that BBC Online - as a whole - will have a single, unified strategy and I am confident that the new focus it will give will deliver much more for much less and enable the BBC to become as highly regarded in the internet age as it became in the broadcasting age – with six of the ten products to be based in Salford, which will become a digital hub for the BBC.

As in the early days of TV, when we simply filmed radio programmes, we are only just beginning to understand the huge potential of the internet, not just as a platform, but its creative potential. If any digital media organisation has the talent in its ranks and the imagination to harness that potential, it's the BBC.

While the BBC's first-class editorial output is what makes it so appreciated by the public, its innovation culture and engineering expertise has allowed it to keep pace with their changing expectations, a legacy that can be traced right back to Lord Reith himself. Putting online at the heart of the BBC’s future means this legacy continues in the connected digital age.


Erik Huggers is the Director of Future Media & Technology


  • Comment number 1.

    Close 606?please tell me this is a sick joke.

  • Comment number 2.

    There seem to be two conflicting statements with regard to sports coverage.

    Firstly, you compare the changes to the "early days of TV, when we simply filmed radio programmes". Yet you also you you won't "Invest in exclusive online sports rights".

    If the website solely includes coverage of sports already featured on TV and radio then this would be a great loss. The use of the internet to cover sports or events which would not make it to TV or radio provides much needed publicity and is good public service. If left to commercial operators then much of this coverage simply wouldn't happen. Perhaps a reduction in coverage of sports already well served by commercial providers would be more appropriate.

  • Comment number 3.

    Presumably the fact that you've spent a while sorting out H2G2 is because the decision to do that was taken before the decision to "dispose" of it?

    Could you dispose of it by giving it to another organisation?

  • Comment number 4.

    Hi paulmorriss - I'm talking to the H2G2 community about this right now over at H2G2 itself. Please go there for further information.



  • Comment number 5.

    Other than the Today programme on Radio 4, almost all my radio listening is (and has been for years) through the Listen Again/iPlayer features - mainly from Radio 3, 4 and (mostly) BBC Radio 7.

    With all the emphasis on 'live' radio, will I still be able to listen to programmes in 'catch-up' mode via the internet?

    You mention that iPlayer will now not include radio programmes (having laboured long and hard to get them on there!), but radio will get its own product - how soon will we know about how that will work?

  • Comment number 6.

    How does this impact on existing programme sites such as Doctor Who. Will it be downsized? What does this mean for exclusive online content such as the Doctor Who Adventure Games released last year?

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    Instead of cutting things like BBC iPlayer messageboard and reduce the salaries of big earners like Brucie?

    I am fed up with the usual drivel such as Strictly and other reality TV shows, when is the BBC going start putting on more live snooker or football? For example why isn't the Welsh open available to all BBC regions and not just Wales?

    I also hope that there will be a better way to report problems with BBC iPlayer as the 6 page comtact form is a joke.

  • Comment number 9.

    Can somebody please comment on the "National" Political Blogs - Blether with Brian, Betsan's Blog, Blog Vaugh Roderick, Niall O'Gallacher's Blog Poileataigeach and Mark Devenport's Northern Irish Political Blog.

    Some readers may be aware of a degree of controversy over the moderation of these blogs and we would all be keen to know if the BBC is simply "getting rid of some Elephants in the Room" by shutting these forums down.

  • Comment number 10.

    This could be an opportunity for improvements to online radio output. Bringing it into the iPlayer fold broke a whole slew of methods of consuming radio, hopefully this new product will work better for listening online.

  • Comment number 11.

    If the expected quality of the new direction can be seen in your article graphics then we are in big trouble.

    They look like mumbo jumbo PR nonsense that shows nothing of meaning but could perhaps amuse someone in primary school for a few minutes (while they designed them).

    Putting Quality First my a***!

  • Comment number 12.

    BBC Online will not:
    Offer specialist news content for specialist audiences

    What does this mean ? No sports, no politics, no science ?

  • Comment number 13.

    You say "Doing Fewer Things, Better ...and BBC iPlayer are two of our most popular websites, and it’s no coincidence that they are run as products already" only then to announce The closure of the ... BBC iPlayer message board

    The BBC history of software releases including the many problems with iPlayer Desktop does not seem to be what would be expected from a BBC flagship product. The support for users of iPlayer is not good, and surely will only deteriorate once the messageboard is closed down.

    RADIO we’ll develop a new stand-alone product. How long is that going to take, and will it work properly. You seem to have ongoing problems with Radio on iPlayer and the other stream types at present, especially for overseas users. How are the users going to get support? By using the Contact form no doubt? I am sure you have read users opinion of how well the Contact Forms do or do NOT work, even BBC management agrees there are problems with that method of user support.

  • Comment number 14.

    So these sites are being shut down completely? Since these websites were create with the tax payers money via the TV licensing and BBC trust funds could some of these sites not live on in the hands of the community? Could the concept or site itself be gradually handed over to the public to manage? They could be taken over in responsibility by a 3rd party company or volunteer group similar to how open source projects work...... adoption of these sites it better then their abortion...

  • Comment number 15.

    @Erik, re: "we are only just beginning to understand the huge potential of the internet, not just as a platform, but its creative potential."

    If you're shedding h2g2, that's a clear sign that you don't. Instead of nurturing "creative potential" you are just aggregating and rebranding Twitter feeds, RSS and other "outside" sources with no real creativity from your end at all.

  • Comment number 16.

    A separate standalone product for radio? Please say you are going to offer Listen again services... and how is this going to work in a cross-platform manner?

    Frontier Silicon to my Roberts unit... or will it be a simple matter of offering a choice of streams off a website to my N900? Or would I see the content become visible in Totem on my Ubuntu kit?

    iPlayer 2 was wonderful by comparison. We wouldn't even mind if it was all fed through iPlayer if the Beeb offered source-code so that distribution devs could deal with downstream compiling and testing...

    What a cack-handed decision by the Trust...

  • Comment number 17.

    Well as Julian #12 above mentioned it's not for us. The BBC is supposed to be for all the people who are in the UK (you don't have to live in the UK just be around. This implies is offerings have to be for a longtailed audience distibution, with may be some black swans as well.

    So "Radio will focus on live output, and the discovery of new music as played and recommended by BBC DJs and iconic musicians" so no LISTEN AGAIN to talk (eg In Our Time) or File on 4, no jazz or art music, brass bands or folk (they don't have DJ's but maybe Dylan will get a look in) and especially one suspects no ethics or religion ... not even the 'humanists' no drama either. And nothing special from Manchester, or Newcastle or even Birmingham on the web. Maybe a tweet from Salford. (Media City whose live radio output perhaps will disappear as well.)

    No don't just forget it... just fondly remember when the BBC was not governed by products.. (called programmes but not one is mentioned) and the need to make offer a clear field to the commercial interests (the new 'local' TV network for example (that why no 'what's on' local websites).

    I take it the Trust has approved all this (without counsultation?)

  • Comment number 18.

    Closing 606 is a utterly foolish. How many users per day?

    We provide feedback on sporting subjects for your shows and primarily your BBC Sport website.

    You will no doubt significantly increase the advertising revenue on the Sky Sports News website due to this as that is where a large chunk of the 606 community is going to head.

    606 was about the sports fan having a say on what was going on in the world of sport via various forms of your media. A say that you are removing from the licence fee payer.

    This decision is an absolute disgrace and a decision that has obviously made by someone who is no fan of sport and is concerned for their own personal welfare.

  • Comment number 19.

    There is nothing wrong with seeking efficiencies in online content and 'retiring' older sites. There's also nothing wrong with focusing on core business. However, there are serious issues that need to be addressed for this rationalisation to take place, and which are not adequately covered in the above article.

    1. When retiring older sites, content MUST be allowed to be reposted elsewhere, or retained in an archive. The public may be interested in assisting with this process.

    2. It is noted that search has an important role, but there is no mention of the use of indexes and cross-referencing of content pages. At present, navigation to BBC built content is a matter of learning the links, and search results (in spite of improvements) are still less than ideal. It speaks volumes that the manner in which one can access this very blog is through a tiny link in the footer of the BBC homepage and then a second link from the About the BBC page. We need less focus on look and feel and more focus on functionality. Why do you think Wikipedia is so popular, despite looking desperately old-fashioned?

    3. It's fine not to offer specialist information, but it is *essential* to link to that 3rd party material from relevant BBC sites. If the BBC is to "do less, better" and still live up to its strategy to "do more to serve all audiences", then it needs to acknowledge its curatorial role in providing access to additional information services and sites.

    4. Given the published objective of cutting the BBC Online budget by £34m, and in line with the Trust strategy to set new standards in openness and transparency, it would be advisable for the BBC to publish precise numbers of costs of bandwidth, hosting, and development and maintenance of BBC websites, and to identify where savings will be occurring. Not only would this identify key business opportunities for commercial content creators (particularly for content BBC no longer wishes to supply), it may well provide the opportunity for the community to recommend additional cost-savings to the BBC.

    5. BBC should be clear about who will be driving these changes, deadlines for delivery and how the savings made will be redeployed through the business. Erik Huggers has already announced he is leaving BBC for Intel at the end of February, and the BBC Online division is being broken up into Future Media and Technology departments. How are the budget cuts being deployed in each of these departments? While it may *appear* that Future Media is mostly affected by the content cuts, indexing, search and navigation is the focus of the Technology division. Who will be driving these cuts in departments and what areas will benefit?

    As I say, I have no problem with seeking efficiencies in publication of online content, and I am glad Huggers has posted this manifesto. However, I think there is now a distinct need for a more transparent and consultative approach to the reshaping of BBC content online if the institution is to achieve both the recognition and the value it seeks.

    Joanne Jacobs
    Technology Consultant

  • Comment number 20.

    A couple of points of clarification on the Trust's report if I may:

    Trust: "Following a pan BBC review of Reach, Quality, Impact and Value ("RQIV") metrics, BBC Online will adopt AI as its lead quality metric."

    - What is 'AI'?

    Trust: "Net Promoter will now become the lead audience-facing measure of impact"

    - Who is 'Net Promoter'?

    (I could not find these terms explained in the Trust Report.)


  • Comment number 21.

    Ridicolous decision regarding 606.

  • Comment number 22.

    I am deeply disappointed and angered by the decision to close 606, but I am also deeply perturbed by this:

    •A reduction in the overall amount of Sports news and live sport

    How can you justify this? What will not be covered that is currently covered? You have a duty to support live sport and sports news given the number of sports fans in this country. Not to mention the Olympics on the horizon.

  • Comment number 23.

    Having seen 2 uses of Rio Ferdinands Twitter feed on BBC News and Sport today alone, this is the beginning of the end of the BBC.

    RIP BBC, it was good while it lasted.

  • Comment number 24.

    I do hope that all radio programmes will still be available to listen to for 7 days as now. Surely anything else would be a huge back-ward step.

  • Comment number 25.

    If you expect to rely increasingly on external networks and applications to deliver content in place of in-house solutions, what are the implications of this for the BBC's non-commercial remit? And what happens when those services go bust? The disbanding of FM&T seems more than a little short-sighted. Not only will the BBC and its audience become dependent on foreign corporations, but also subject to the whims of foreign governments - as the recent wikileaks episode demonstrated.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    The bbc is the victim of it,s own success and when it starts to hurt commercial sites and their money streams the bbc gets leaned on from high

  • Comment number 28.

    If they shut the messageboard how do we report problems? Granted I doubt anybody from the BBC actually visit the messageboard.

  • Comment number 29.

    People only go on BBC website to go on 606, shocking, you should be ashamed BBC...

  • Comment number 30.

    spot on closing 606 - they got moderation completely wrong which made it unusable anyway, and its not the BBC's job to sustain it. The BBC's job is to produce content, not manage user-generated forums. that task belongs to the internet at large, and commercial/hobbyist concerns.

    I wrote to the BBC with a long explanation of 606's shortcomings after I had an article removed, which ended up with me explaining why I wouldn't be using it any more and what they needed to do to stop it becoming increasingly irrelevant. They clearly thought, hmm he's right but the other option would be just to close it. bravo. *deluded*

  • Comment number 31.

    The BBC still controls all of the data that has passed through the likes of 606, such as user accounts, posts, etc.

    Why can't the BBC make this all freely available, so that someone can host the 606 forum elsewhere? In the few months until 606 is closed I bet the web guys at the BBC could sanitise the database and provide the user accounts on request to people looking to revive the website under different forums.

    In the same vein, why not sell 606 to the highest bidder? I bet that Sky would be more than willing to take that many visitors off of the BBC.

  • Comment number 32.

    I think we need more clarification as to if we will be able to 'Listen Again' to radio programmes. I'm sure I won't be the only listener to be appalled to hear that it is going to be discontinued. I use it several times a day as most of the good shows are on at the most unearthly hours for many listeners.
    I have noticed the lack of reminders to 'listen again' via the iPlayer over the last few weeks though. Maybe they think we will soon forget about it and therefore not want to use it?
    Very bad news for listeners to a service which pre dates the TV service that allows you to 'listen again'.

  • Comment number 33.

    @Mike I agree. the software structure of 606 is fantastic. I might write in, see if they'd be willing to give it away.

  • Comment number 34.

    Why does every top bod in the BBC talk about halving the number of top level domain in use? There are a number of sub directories eg /news /sport etc but only 1 tld (that is the bit that comeas after bbc ie .co.uk

    It would be very helpful if senior figures involved in BBC Online could actually get their terminology correct......

  • Comment number 35.

    Like many other listeners, I listen to BBC Radio programmes on a Reciva-enabled internet radio device, both live and using the extremely useful 'On Demand' feature.

    1. Will BBC Radio still be available, as it is now, on Reciva-enabled internet radios?

    2. Will the 'On Demand' feature still be available, as it is now, on Reciva-enabled internet radios?

  • Comment number 36.

    Quite a few of you have mentioned the 606 message board. If you haven't already seen it, take a look at Ben Gallop's post on the Sport Editors' blog where he talks about the strategy for BBC Sport Online.

  • Comment number 37.

    Is there any news regarding closure of excellent resources, linked to BBC popular TV shows such as "Who do you think are"? I have found the the likes of https://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbhistory/F2233810 to be not only a wonderful resource, but a great social community of like minded people.

    I'm starting question what the BBC stands for. My loyalty is getting brought into question. I am sure there a far better ways to save money than closing messageboards, blogs and discussion mediums which keeps people coming back to the BBC.

  • Comment number 38.

    I reiterate Dogmatix's comments. Will I be able to listen again to radio content on-demand?

    Will the new Radioplayer offer these as naked streams accessible directly by any device? And easily searchable as they are now? What about series-linking etc as they are now under iPlayer?

    Considering that at the moment I no longer have a tape deck or audio recorder rigged up in the way i had to back in the day...

    Short-sighted view by the Beeb if this isn't offered... Yes - I know most of radio listening may be live... but I DO listen on-demand... mostly on my Roberts radio.. but if I was on holiday somewhere - I would be using my N900... or my netbook... or my lappie...

  • Comment number 39.

    Hello Alex Cockell
    Daniel Danker has just posted on the Internet blog, outlining the plans for onlilne radio.

  • Comment number 40.

    @bridget, he doesn't answer our points: namely, that the 606 software structure is excellent. Would the BBC consider handing it to an independent concern to continue?

  • Comment number 41.

    If the online budget is being scaled back, will the overall wages bill of those in FM&T be also be scaled back accordingly?

    If you've less to look after, you'll be paid less, no?

  • Comment number 42.

    This is a sad day indeed for the BBC, bot only for those who will be losing their jobs, but also the loss of an excellent, trusted on-line presence which has given so many people so much pleasure over the years.

    The ability to send feedback, ask questions and discuss topics in on-line forums has been invaluable and I sincerely hope that the BBC will not totally remove the ability to communicate through messageboards.

    I fear in this move the BBC will be losing the baby with the bathwater :-(

  • Comment number 43.

    I live in the USA and am a regular poster on 606. Like many I have no other interest in BBC services.

    Luckily as running a furum is so incredibly cheap, plenty of relacements have appeared already.

    I expect cutting the 606 budget won't even fund the fancy artwork on this report to announce it is cut.

  • Comment number 44.

    How long have we got before the iPlayer boards close down?

  • Comment number 45.

    Ben Gallop states 606 contributors will still be encouraged to comment, & then promptly tells us...

    'This entry is closed for comment.' A sign of things to come?

    There's a link to this blog, so I'll have my say on here before Mr Huggers decides to close this one too.

  • Comment number 46.

    ""Standalone forums, communities, message-boards and blogs to be reduced and replaced with integrated social tools"" what the hell is a integrated social tool??????

  • Comment number 47.

    @ 46

    I'd put my money on the overuse of Twits, and "Look-at-Me" book.

  • Comment number 48.

    43. At 8:14pm on 25 Jan 2011, Simon-in-Oklahoma 0 wrote:
    I expect cutting the 606 budget won't even fund the fancy artwork on this report to announce it is cut.

    My comment at 11 is awaiting moderation probably as I put my view on the artwork a little stronger!

    In moderation for almost two days!

  • Comment number 49.

    Closing down 606 would be the single most stupid thing BBC has ever done and it will definitely come back to bite them where it hurts. I'd like to know the cost and strategic benefits of this decision. Why is Erik Huggers being given a say in this BBC re-org anyway when he's jumping to Intel as corporate vice president? This is the same chap who spent £639 on one single taxi fair and claimed it back on expenses. Who makes him so important that he can waste away tax payer's money in this manner and then proceed to ruin one of the major attractions of the BBC website.

  • Comment number 50.

    I'm another happy contributor to the BBC 606 forums who cannot believe this excellent service is being axed. The timing of this beggars belief. Probably the best sports forum on the net will be closing one year ahead of the largest and greatest sporting event ever to be hosted on British soil, the 2012 London Olympics.

    No doubt the BBC intend to cover this event extensively. So why remove a live and vital forum that could contribute to BBC journalist's work free of charge!

    The other thing I notice is the forum is being closed. Not sold. I am sure the BBC Bean-Counters could be made very happy if they kept the site open and used some of the white-space available for advertising. Maybe there is too much effort for the BBC in finding advertisers. OK, so sell it! It can't be much good because your planning on closing it. I'm sure nobody would have the business accumen to get 606 forums into a position to compete with your "integrated social tools".

    Hmmmm we're not exactly grasping a nettle there, are we Auntie Beeb? Methinks there is considerable doubt in the ability to adequately replace this excellent service. Otherwise you would do exactly that. Sell 606 and cash in before destrying it with a superior service! Thats what businessmen would do!

  • Comment number 51.

    I'm sorry, hold your horses there!
    Lovely diagrams, really they are.

    But the money shamelessly wasted (not least on this analysis of your current online service) on quite dreadful BBC programming, would pay for BBC 606 hundreds of times over... and you know it!

    Spurious diagrams supposedly simulating a diffused output are shameful. 606 is a well organised, successful and extremely popular online service. Compare that to:
    Your Saturday evening TV schedule, which has an emetic effect at best.
    Your ridiculous presentation of the weather on TV, which stops at a random minute of the next day's forecast to include all areas of the UK in microscopic detail, yet speeds through the rest as if it were using amphetamines opening out onto a wide shot that includes most of Benelux and Scandinavia!!! Bring back Michael Fish and his velcro stickers. He never used to spend hours saying what the weather in Peru had been yesterday.
    Radio 5. Or Radio Smug as a friend of mine accurately dubs it.
    I'm too old to appreciate Radio 1. I did hear Fern Cotton spending a morning discussing the shaving of her armpits but maybe it was just as anodyne years ago, I can't remember.
    Radio 4 and BBC 606 are the only things about the BBC I wholly respect, and NOW YOU'RE GETTING RID OF ONE OF THEM!!
    Good job you're not the same organisation that paid Jonathan Woss £18m a year - oh no, that WAS you wasn't it?

    Sort it out. Why continue to buy a license if all you serve up on your simply massive budget, is pure unadulterated pap?

    Lose the dross, but keep the quality - surely not too difficult a concept?

  • Comment number 52.

    BBC, please read the following 2007 document from the BBC Trust. The first paragraph is very relevant to the existence and future of 606:
    "BBC Public Purpose Remit"
    "Representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities".
    "You can rely on the BBC to reflect the many communities that exist in the UK. These communities may be based on geography, on faith, on language, or on a shared interest such as sport. You can expect the BBC to stimulate debate within and between the communities of the UK, and to encourage people to get involved with their local communities".
    I cannot think of a more eloquent statement as to why 606 should be maintained! Isn't this what the BBC should be all about?????
    The link to the document is here

  • Comment number 53.

    As others have said: BBC bloggers continue to refer to top level domains and TLDs, whereas in fact they seem to mean directories.

    It's important to get this right: the BBC is proposing major changes, and senior staff should express this in a way that's clear and accurate, and shows an understanding of what is planned.

  • Comment number 54.

    In my view the BBC could reduce expenses by reducing the number of overpaid so called "celebrities" on their books. Why cut services when the answer to planning for a reduced budget is so simple? Cut out the dead wood - mainly on TV. I mean, for instance, just how many Chefs do you need for crying out loud???

    Finally, what criteria is used to determine what stays and what goes anyway? Are we, the users,the public (the licence payers), consulted, or are we looking at a dictatorship here?

  • Comment number 55.

    Good wishes for California, Eric!

    You are right to identify main product areas for BBC Online.
    This is not simple: there are eleven (11) tabs listed towards the bottom of the "All Blogs" webpage:


    including TV, Radio, Music Art & Culture, Language etc.
    It will require very clear signposting to organise these Blogs under the 5 headings you have stated in your article

    good wishes

  • Comment number 56.

    'Doing Fewer Things, Better'

    Well, in some sectors, bonusses kick in when you meet 50% of target, so kudos.

    Still grappling with how spreading the existing barely credible content even more thinly across ever more super-sexy media avenues qualifies on the first count either.

    At least I may have swung in under 400 chars. You could even tweet most. Then it can get picked up as 'news'.

  • Comment number 57.

    was the h2g2 MOT an exercise in market testing with a view to disposing of the site, or just a waste of licence fee payers(of which i am one) money???

  • Comment number 58.

    @Sir_Luther_Blissett_SAVE_606, #51

    "Radio 4 and BBC 606 are the only things about the BBC I wholly respect, and NOW YOU'RE GETTING RID OF ONE OF THEM!!"

    In Scotland, Freeview users have had Radio 4 taken away during peak times. And the World Service. :-(

    The BBC's online "policies" are a sort of rolling worst-case scenario; just when you think it can't get any worse, it does. (I'm thinking at the moment about the closure of the "Ouch!" boards, but by the time you read this I'm sure another dizzyingly stupid example will have come along to dwarf that...)

    Remember, the budget for *all* the IT services and positions the BBC got rid of, for a *year*, could be paid by missing out on one *hour* of prime-time BBC1. That's one *hour* of a dark screen to fund Online for one *year*. But BBC Management like to think in percentages, not absolute amounts, so they set out to cut 25% across the board, ignoring the fact that this huge disruption to any number of stable communities and message boards is saving them *nothing* in the grand overall scheme of things.

    And BBC Online is a mess now. Every software "fix" seems to add two more bugs, one of which was "fixed" before.

    Job well done, Erik.

  • Comment number 59.

    Well, i'm new to bbc online so I guess I would notice any changes. I watch it all the time at though.


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