BBC to slash online budget by a quarter

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The BBC said Monday it would cut its online budget by 25 percent as the publicly-funded broadcaster responds to criticism that is an unfair competitor to commercial rivals.

The change will see 34 million pounds (54.5 million dollars, 40 million euros) cut from BBC Online's budget and 360 jobs will be lost over the next two years.

Among some 200 websites to be closed are services aimed at teenagers and community-focused services. There will be a reduction in the overall amount of sports news, live sport and showbusiness news.

The BBC has frequently attracted criticism for its extensive, free-access website from commercial media, with some of the loudest complaints coming from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. empire.

BBC director general Mark Thompson admitted the changes would be "painful".

"BBC Online is a huge success, but our vast portfolio of websites means we sometimes fall short of expectation," he said, but insisted that BBC Online remained "at the heart" of the corporation's digital future.

© 2011 AFP

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