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BBC Food and Newsbeat websites to close under £15m savings plan

Published 17/05/2016

Recipes from TV programmes will remain online for 30 days as opposed to being available indefinitely
Recipes from TV programmes will remain online for 30 days as opposed to being available indefinitely
Chef Jack Monroe

The BBC's Food and Newsbeat websites, along with its iWonder service, will close over the next 12 months as part of plans to save £15 million.

The online News Magazine will also close, to be replaced by "long-form" journalism online under a current affairs banner, the BBC said.

Social media activity around digital radio and music will also be reduced, and the BBC's Travel website will be closed.

James Harding, director of BBC News and current affairs, said: "The internet requires the BBC to redefine itself, but not its mission: the BBC's purpose online is to provide a distinctive public service that informs, educates and entertains."

The reforms come after a review last autumn to ensure the BBC provides " a distinctive public service that informs, educates and entertains".

The BBC's Food website, which holds around 11,000 recipes, is being scrapped under the review of online services, and there has been a clamour to save them from being permanently lost to the public.

An online petition to save the recipe archive has attracted more than 120,000 supporters - with numbers rapidly rising - as campaigners called it a "precious resource" for people.

The corporation said "as much content as possible" will be moved to the BBC's Good Food site, which will be unaffected.

Over the coming year, the BBC will:

:: Close the iWonder service, but redeploy its formats across BBC Online;

:: Close the BBC's Food website. The Good Food site part of BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm, will remain unchanged;

:: Focus on distinctive long-form journalism online under a current affairs banner and close the online News Magazine;

:: Integrate Newsbeat output into BBC News Online, but close the separate Newsbeat site and app;

:: Continue to offer travel news online as part of BBC News, but close the Travel site and halt development of the Travel app;

:: Stop running local news index web pages, offering instead an open stream on our rolling guide to BBC and local news provider stories, Local Live;

:: Remove ring-fenced funding for iPlayer-only commissions;

:: Reduce funding for Connected Studio, the digital innovation programme, with innovation increasingly funded within business-as-usual and the studio maintained as an enabler of innovation;

:: Reduce digital radio and music social media activity and additional programme content that is not core to services.

As part of a drive to "inform, educate and entertain in the digital age", BBC Online will now focus on six key areas, the corporation said - providing news, sports and entertainment, along with arts, culture, history and science through the Ideas Service, being a hub for children to play and learn through BBC iPlay and BBC Bitesize, and covering national and historic moments via BBC Live.

The review aims to create a more "focused and distinctive" service, the BBC said, saving more than £15 million, 15% of the service's editorial spend.

Mr Harding said the changes would allow the BBC to stop duplicating work in areas such as food and scale back services in areas like travel where there are "bigger, better-resourced services in the market".

He said: " The review sets out what we want to be famous for online: trusted news; the place where children come to learn and play; high quality entertainment; live sports coverage and sports news; arts and culture, history and science; and historic moments, national events.

" And we are going to focus our energy on these six areas: BBC News; iPlay and BBC Bitesize; BBC iPlayer and BBC iPlayer Radio; BBC Sport; the Ideas Service; and BBC Live."

The announcement follows the publication of a Government White Paper on the future of the BBC, which sets out a long-term plan for the corporation, including maintaining the licence fee.

BBC staff sources said the changes would affect around 40 people, with little or no impact on news and radio services.

Gerry Morrissey, general secretary of the broadcasting workers' union Bectu, said: "What we're seeing is the BBC contradicting itself. One minute it's investing in online, the next cuts are being proposed.

"Sadly, we only expect more of this to come as the BBC faces up to the cuts imposed by government. What's clear to us is that if the BBC audience values a service, it has to protest and seek assurances on no cuts."

Recipes from TV programmes will remain online for 30 days, but t he planned end to the BBC's Food website has caused uproar.

Emma Barrington, 48, a baking enthusiast from London who set up the petition, said: "It seems like a totally pointless and unfair intervention by the Government to impose this on the BBC under the vague directive of providing 'distinct content'.

"They are wasting time on removing our recipes when there are bigger problems to worry about. The BBC Food website is free, independent and British. It seems silly to not just leave the archive on there."

Anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe announced plans earlier this month to publish her recipes from the website on a blog,, saying: "I learned to cook on the dole using free recipes online and for the BBC to reduce this vital service is an abomination."

A BBC spokeswoman said: "We are glad that so many people care so much about all our content. But just to be clear, we have never said we'd delete all the recipes and nor will we.

"We currently have two websites and we'll move to one. The recipes you love will still be available and we'll migrate as much of the content as possible to the BBC Good Food website. So you'll still be able to carry on baking and cooking with the BBC."

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