The BBC has announced a series of proposed changes in an effort to save £15 million (roughly $17 million), or roughly 15% of the editorial budget. The proposed changes include closing the iWonder service, BBC Travel, BBC Food, News Magazine, Newsbeat, and local news index pages. The BBC also plans to reduce music social media activity and funding for Connected Studio, an viewer input-driven element of BBC’s research and development arm. The closing of the local news pages will affect over 40 areas.
The closing of the BBC’s food vertical was among the most controversial elements as thousands of recipes were at risk. The BBC initially said that the recipes would be archived and only accessible if the user knew the URL. However, a petition signed by over 100,000 people has prompted the BBC to clarify that the recipes will be available and many will be moved to BBC Good Food, a commercial venture.
“There’s been a lot of interest in BBC recipes today,” a BBC spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”
The iWonder service, which looks at history, culture, and other thought-provoking ideas, will be shuttered, but its content will continue to exist as part of other offerings from the BBC. The move was a surprise, even as the BBC noted the popularity of the service, “The iWonder product, for instance, has provided valuable learning content and genuine innovation.” The iWonder service will be replaced by the Ideas Service, “a service that offers lessons for life not only from the BBC but from the great scientific, artistic and intellectual authorities of our times.”
There was no decision on the fate of BBC World News and BBC News. There have been talks of merging the two channels and having one unified rolling news channel to air around the world. The BBC recently shuttered BBC3 and made the television channel Internet-only.
The decisions come as the BBC Charter is up for renewal this December. The government has proposed a series of reforms and John Whittingdale, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media, and Sport, has issued a government whitepaper of recommendations.
Last year, Chancellor George Osborne said that the BBC and its website were becoming “a bit more imperial in its ambitions.” Osborne even specifically cited the recipes and said, “If you’ve got a website that’s got features and cooking recipes – effectively the BBC website becomes the national newspaper as well as the national broadcaster.”