Thursday 14 March 2013, 11:30 | By Chris Cooke
BBC to shut album reviews website
The BBC is shutting down its music reviews website. The service is the latest to be axed as part of the BBC’s much reported cost cutting efforts.
The service was actually managed by UBC Media for the Corporation, and edited by former Drowned In Sound Editor Mike Diver who utilised a team of freelancers to provide the musical critiques. The reviews site proved popular within the industry, and even more so amongst the music journalism fraternity, where the opportunities to be paid to review new albums have slumped in recent years.
Confirming that the site would close later this month, and that he would depart UBC Media as a result, Diver told Music Week: “Unfortunately, budget cuts within BBC Audio & Music mean that there can be no reviews service from the end of this month”.
He added: “These budgets are, naturally, reviewed regularly; and this time the decision was made to cut the reviews service entirely. All writers, save myself, were freelancers. Losing the BBC album reviews is, after the closure of The Stool Pigeon, another disappointing chapter in an ongoing saga of dwindling opportunities for music critics. The landscape is changing, not for the better”.
The BBC has been quietly downsizing its online operations for sometime now. Partly to save money, and partly amidst pressure from commercial newspaper and magazine owners who argued that the BBC website that emerged in the early days of mainstream net usage, with large quantities of text-based features not directly linked to the Beeb’s TV or radio shows or the BBC News machine, took the Corporation outside its remit as a licence-fee funded broadcaster.
The BBC’s online output is therefore increasingly directly linked to TV and radio output, and increasingly centres on audio and video rather than long-form written content. In this environment, the future of the BBC music reviews site had been uncertain for a while.
The axing of the BBC reviews site follows a recent announcement that the Corporation was also shifting its on-air cultural reviews programme, ‘The Review Show’ (formerly the ‘Newsnight Review’), to BBC 4 and making it monthly rather than weekly.