bbc_logo_2011.jpgThe British Broadcasting Corporation (news, site) has expanded its online presence wildly and enthusiastically for years, but with government belt-tightening and competitive pressure, the time has come to scale back.

That Was the BBC

The BBC has long been at the forefront of the U.K.'s online presence -- from news to online TV, games and masses of associated information. For some years, it has tried to appeal to all audiences in its home islands and across the world. Now, some 200 of its 400+ top line sites are due to be axed in a sizable piece of industry news.

The years of rampant expansion have come to an end in the light of stringent budget cuts and commercial competitors complaining about the BBC's privileged position in the U.K. market as a tax-funded body. Its budget is being reduced by UK£ 34 million but the online department still has over UK£ 100 (US$ 160) million to play with, dwarfing most other media outlets. There's a full list of closures -- many you might notice are from defunct programs or projects -- here.

Switch Off

Most of the cuts pick at the more niche areas of the corporation's online content, with the headline cuts being the teenage-focused Switch site that offered everything from school and college to relationship advice and teen-themed webisodes of BBC shows. Other affected sites include Video Nation and Blast, while lots of social content will be trimmed down and features will be automated to reduce staffing by some 350 posts -- but the BBC will do more on Facebook and other social sites to keep in touch with fans.

BBC Switch - a victim of the cutbacks

Popular areas will hopefully get more attention, including the likes of its crowning achievement, BBC News and the iPlayer -- the web TV service that opened up live and recorded content to the U.K. (with an advertising-funded option coming online for overseas viewers) along with its respected news site and thriving music channels.

National Punching Bag

The BBC is always under attack from its commercial media rivals, who take any opportunity (say, when Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson makes an off-color joke) to blast the corporation. But many web commentators see this day as an opportunity for the BBC's web units to push forward into the 21st Century and improve its already strong hand.