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BBC outlines future digital strategy

The BBC has moved to clarify its digital agenda and trim back its online operations to cut costs by £34 million, with the loss of 360 jobs and halving its number of websites to 180. But full investment is being maintained in the BBC’s portal for catch-up TV and radio services, iPlayer, and also in YouView (formerly Canvas), the initiative led by the BBC to create a “Freeview of the Internet” for IPTV and on-demand services. Like Freeview, YouView is a joint venture, with deployment planned using certified set-top boxes from existing vendors and no plans to manufacture or support hardware.

As part of this move, the BBC has confirmed that it will not aggregate content from third-party sources either via the existing iPlayer or any future YouView platform. But BBC director general Mark Thompson has reiterated the importance of YouView to the corporation, given his expectation that eventually all the BBC’s content is likely to be delivered via the Internet in some form. Thompson has alluded to YouView as the BBC’s weapon in the intensifying “battle for the living room.”

The BBC is also cutting its annual management expenditure by £100 million and imposing an absolute limit of £300 million for acquisition of sports rights.