Auntie's bloomer

Politics is an odd business. Depending on your point of view, you might think the Coalition Government's cuts are sensible and necessary or wild-eyed and dangerous. But they're certainly real, and certainly happening, and we just got a taste of what they mean for our online lives from an unexpected source - the BBC.

Of course, as it's not technically state-funded, the BBC isn't a victim of the cuts per se. But the Government restricted it to a tight licence fee settlement, and forced it to take over the funding of the World Service, in the Spending Review last October, meaning in practice it's undergoing steep budget cuts. And the Beeb has decided that a big chunk of the savings should be made in its online offerings.

That means big cuts - the Beeb's online budget is being cut by a whopping 25%. Over 200 of the BBC's website areas are to close, ranging from H2G2 - the user-generated encyclopedia project started by Douglas Adams before he died - to teen area Switch.

What most be the disruptive move, though, isn't a direct results of cuts at all, but of the reorganisation designed to achieve them. The BBC is splitting its online department between its main departments, of which TV and Radio are separate areas. That means radio is going to be taken out of iPlayer and made a separate product.

That could be good, especially if the new tool has loads of additional music content. But it's bound to provoke lots of fuss from users, who had a separate radio 'listen again' function until iPlayer was launched and have only just got used to using an integrated service.

Still, on balance, I'd rather the Beeb cut down on 6 Music's website than shut the station down completely...

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