Closure of BBC recipe website cooks up storm in UK
LONDON - Agence France-Presse
REUTERS photoA BBC plan to shut down its recipe website left Britons simmering on May 17 at the demise of a resource offering free tips on cooking everything from lemon drizzle cake to scrambled egg.
The move was announced as part of a push to save 150 million (190 million euros, $220 million) after Prime Minister David Cameron's government told the national broadcaster to slim down.
Nearly 70,000 people and rising have signed a petition opposing the closure and calling the 11,000 recipes, some from celebrity chefs like Nigella Lawson, "much loved" and "precious".
Thousands also took to Twitter to protest.
"Can't imagine there is ANYONE in the UK who cooks who won't be upset," wrote user Olivia Crellin.
"Literally 90% of my dinners are from #bbcrecipes," added Aniqah C.
A BBC spokeswoman insisted that while the website was being closed and no further recipes would be added, people would still be able to access existing ones.
But media reports suggested the recipes could become hard to find.
The broadcaster said in a statement that its online activities would now focus on "six flagship areas after a review to ensure they remain high quality and distinctive".
These include news, sport and "ideas" -- arts, culture, history and science.
Other sites being closed include travel and some local news pages.
The deputy leader of the main opposition Labour party, Tom Watson, condemned the announcement.
He said the site was being closed because ministers thought the recipes represented "mission creep" -- the BBC producing content in areas which should be left to commercial rivals.
"They want the markets to decide how you choose and pay for your recipes," Watson added.
"Yet no market could offer access to so many recipes, free at the point of use because they can't recreate the licence fee model."
The BBC is largely funded by the annual licence fee of 145.50 which every household watching live television has to pay.
Last week, Culture Secretary John Whittingdale published a long-awaited policy paper on the future of the BBC.
It indicated that online content should focus on "rigorous, impartial analysis of important news events and current affairs".
The 150 million cuts confirmed Tuesday come as part of 700 million in overall savings which the BBC must make by 2021/22.
The broadcaster has announced hundreds of job cuts in recent months.