The streamlining of BBC Online is giving me flashbacks to taking the rich and utterly unmanageable diversity of AOL UK in the early days and stuffing the advertising-rich portions of it (News, Sport, Kids, Learning, Entertainment) into the rigid lines of corporate content. Because of that I feel snarky and nitpicky ;-)
There's obviously the issue of competing with commercial news organisations. "The relationship with the wider industry is also important.... 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." Where in the BBC remit is the 'generate traffic for commercial businesses' principle?
BBC iPlayer is great, so let's change it.
"BBC News and BBC iPlayer are two of our most popular websites... 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." "Radio and music will come out of BBC iPlayer, and we’ll develop a new stand-alone product... 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." Cross-platform? Sounds great. But there's no mention of listen-again, just live radio (there's specific mention of on demand TV in BBC iPlayer). And "Radio will focus on live output, and the discovery of new music as played and recommended by BBC DJs and iconic musicians" sounds like all Six Music, all the time. Let's hope listen-again is part of the quality this is about preserving and they just forgot to mention it.
tweets not comments?
"Standalone forums, communities, message-boards and blogs to be reduced and replaced with integrated social tools"; not having to read, approve and worry about being responsible for comments on stories frees up a lot of resources and
There is good news ;-) "A substantial reduction in showbusiness news on the News website"; I'm sure Lord Reith would also like hearing that "BBC News Entertainment and Arts section will have more culture and arts coverage".
A lot of this is sensible; if budgets have to go down, focusing on news and education and access to programming online is a good core. Interactive sites are a lot of work. Programming information should be automated. There's the spectre of not being too commercial; if the Dr Who site should really be the Dr Who magazine online, should that be something the BBC runs or something it licences to a commercial company? How does the BBC deal with Sky complaining that it's taking too much online traffic? The fact that I'm having flashbacks and that I recognise exactly which Office 2010 diagram templates they've used for the slide deck that those pictures come from doesn't mean there isn't some method here, as well as some madness. H2G2 is a wacky kind of thing for the BBC to run; it should be set up as some kind of foundation - how about a nice donation from the bankers to pay for the servers in perpetuity?
But there's some big holes too (like radio that isn't live and isn't new music). Thanks for the headlines, BBC; now can we have the actual report?