Page last updated at 16:16 GMT, Friday, 20 March 2009

BBC web spending boost approved

Mark Thompson
Director general Mark Thompson's pay will be frozen

The BBC Trust has approved a 30.7m budget increase for the corporation's websites, while agreeing to cuts across television and radio.

The trust, which is the BBC's governing body, also signed off plans to cut the salaries of big name stars and agreed that executive pay should be frozen.

In total, the BBC intends to make savings of 1.9bn over five years.

However, the extra money for the BBC's suite of websites was less than the 52.7m increase managers had requested.

The trust explained that work would have to be done on the BBC's online services to justify the extra cash.

They criticised the search facility on and said that not enough was being done to direct users to external websites.

In particular, they asked management to think carefully about whether the BBC's website content was always distinctive.

Other operators have complained about crossover with commercial services, a problem which was previously highlighted in the government's Graf report in 2004.

'Tight rein'

The trust also complained that the BBC's management of the website was "not sufficiently strong". In 2007-8, it said, misallocation meant the website went 30m over budget.

However, it agreed that the budget should be revised up to meet that overspend, and allocated an additional 30.7m over three years - subject to its concerns about management being addressed.

The total yearly budget for BBC online will now be 145m.

BBC media correspondent Torin Douglas said: "The BBC Trust is keen to show it's keeping a tight rein on BBC spending at a time when commercial companies are seeing their advertising fall through the floor.

"It's also welcomed the management's plans to make significant cuts in pay to top talent. Jonathan Ross's salary has provided powerful ammunition for the BBC's critics" he added.

The trust's decision came as it approved the corporation's operating budget for the next three years.

The trust also gave its blessing to extra expenditure on arts and children's programmes.

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