Anorak | 172 BBC Websites Saved For Just £3.99: Your Money Not Wasted

172 BBC Websites Saved For Just £3.99: Your Money Not Wasted

by | 10th, February 2011

THE  BBC is to close 200 websites. (It has over 400 websites.) And 172 of these are to be closed down permanently.

Anyone who has paid their licence fee has funded these sites. The web cost of the £142.50 annual licence fee is just £0.67 per month. How much do EastEnders cost, and other pisspoor shows about home improvement and anything and everything on BBC Three? Save the web. Cull the telly.

But for just £3.99, a technical experts has saved all the 172 sites and put them into a downloadable torrent. He/she tells us:

Download the bbc.closing.sites.archive.torrent file

On Monday 24th January 2011 the BBC announced that it would be restructuring its online department – with 360 job losses and the deletion of 200 of its top level directories (including the websites that live under them – eg of of those top level directories are due to be deleted within the coming 12 months.

Most of these sites are already ‘mothballed’, which means that the BBC has discontinued the development of these websites on a day-to-day basis. However with this announcement the BBC has decided to go further and physically delete these sites from its websites – thus removing them from the Internet altogether in the name of significant cost savings.

As time goes on, the on-going cost of storing this website data decreases – to the extent that it is practically nothing by today’s costs.

The purpose of this project is to show how the entire 172 public facing websites that are earmarked for deletion have been copied, archived, distributed and republished online – independently – for the price of a cup of Starbucks coffee (around $3.99).

In other words the true cost saving of this horrendous exercise is nothing more than your morning’s grande skinny caramel latte.

Why has this come about?

Senior BBC management, who amusingly often incorrectly refer to their top level directories as “top level domains”, are taking the drastic action of deleting almost half of their website catalogue of sites. The reason for this is to demonstrate cost savings within the department which form part of the BBC’s response to a net decrease in the size of the license fee it may collect, as determined by the UK Government. Although we are in harsh economic times with cuts across the board, these attempts to downsize and weaken the organization began with the Hutton Inquiry in 2003 under the Labour government and continue through to today under the Tory/LibDem coalition (now catalyzed by the influence of 3rd parties with their own agendas such as Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp).

A weaker BBC means a weaker free press and in turn a weaker British democracy and society at large.

The purpose of this project is to expose the ‘cost savings’ of this proposed exercise as nothing more than a charade to appease the detractors to a strong BBC and to curry favour with the current government. BBC’s current senior management has demonstrated a lack of leadership and a lack of courage in pushing back on these demands.

Instead, they are prepared to sacrifice a large amount of still useful, marginal-cost content in order to horse trade for concessions elsewhere as they cave in to this pressure.

So what did I do?

When I found out the BBC would be deleting 172 of its websites, I spidered and downloaded all of the content under each of these top level directories on the domain. I purchased a $3.99‘low end box’ type VPS server and began the crawl. In total this took just under 24hrs – and would have been quicker if I had been less kind to the BBC’s servers. For the aforementioned cost of $3.99 for a cup of Starbucks coffee, anyone can obtain, store and keep this content alive and accessible to the general public. And with this torrent I’ve already done the heavy lifting of retrieving the data for you.

This $3.99/month box is now hosting the content and making it available both via both the web and via bit torrent.

Clearly the BBC has additional costs associated with its size and scale, compounded due to the poor decision to sell off the organization’s technical infrastructure to Siemens from whom it now rents those services back from. But even rounding up those 12 cups of coffee/year to £10,000/year, this still represents negligible budget impact and significant license payer value.

So what is in this torrent?

Contained within this torrent is a gzip tarball of each site, archived individually, allowing you to download just the site(s) you are interested in.

How you can help

I encourage you to download and seed what you can in order to maintain the availability of these sites once the BBC purges them from its webservers. If you have a webserver you could also host some or all of these sites – although this may have legal implications (please consult your lawyer).

Finally, if you desire a strong and independent BBC then I implore you to make your feelings known to your local MP and directly to Jeremy ‘Cunt’ Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport. You may also wish to communicate to Mark Thompson (BBC Director General) and the BBC Trust your desire to see a stronger BBC position in negotiations with the government around the cuts to the BBC’s funding.

PS: You may also find these thoughts of interest:,

The BBC could have done it. But it can’t spare the effort…

Posted: 10th, February 2011 | In: Key Posts, Technology Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink