BBC to axe 360 jobs as it scales down website

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The BBC has announced it is to cut back its website, closing 200 subsidiary sites and axing 360 jobs, as director-general Mark Thompson admitted it had been allowed to grow "like Topsy".

The scale of the cuts, which follow a 25 per cent reduction in the BBC's online budget to £103m by 2013, reveals how the corporation had expanded online during the first decade of this century. Mr Thompson said it was time to refocus the BBC's strategy.

The restructured department will be based on 10 products, including News, iPlayer and CBeebies. The BBC will offer fewer news blogs and local sites will avoid using non-news content. The radio networks 1Xtra, 6 Music and BBC Radio 7, and the Radio 5 Live football phone-in show 606, will no longer have their own websites.

The cutbacks follow criticisms from the commercial media that attempts to build audiences were being undermined by the BBC's dominance of the field. In a conciliatory gesture, the BBC yesterday promised to meet with its commercial rivals twice a year and to aim to generate 22 million referrals a year in traffic to external websites by 2013. The BBC promised it would not attempt to create a social networking platform to rival established formats such as Facebook, or set up information resources that might challenge the likes of Wikipedia or music-based services similar to Spotify.

Other BBC online services that will close include the skills website RAW, teen sites Switch and Blast, and the documentary-based Video Nation.