BBC pares Web sites

'Commercial' sites contrary to mandate

LONDON — The BBC is closing more Web sites to stem criticism from broadcast rivals who claim the pubcaster is moving too far from its public service mandate by creating sites that are too commercial.

As part of the changes, which the BBC hopes will help boost its public-service credentials as the debate intensifies over renewal of its Royal Charter, some 10% of BBC New Media’s budget — about £6 million ($11 million) — is being reallocated to more “distinctive” Internet services.

For instance, the U.S. sports section of the BBC Sports Web site will close. A local history site also is headed for the chop.

A cult TV site is being scaled down and will concentrate on BBC shows. A lifestyle service is being trimmed.

One of the sites being expanded is bbc.co.uk/film. Investment will be re-prioritized to create a Web space aimed at the filmmaking community and showcasing new talent and new short films.

Last summer the BBC’s director of new media and technology, Ashley Highfield, announced the closure of five sites following a government-commissioned review, which warned that BBC Online should be less commercial.

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