Costs of the BBC Action Network

BBC Action Network costs

As I wrote here, the BBC is shortly closing the Action Network, set up five years ago to support grassroots action. Tom Steinberg, founder of the mySociety, which produces tools for social action and e-democracy, has now established some of the costs of the BBC project through a freedom of information request – details. From the spreadsheet provided by the BBC looks as if it will be rather more than £1.3 million by the time it closes.

I should think that interest will now shift to whatever the BBC is planning next. The closure announcement said the BBC would:

… launch a new service which will give people access to all the BBC’s content across tv, radio and online on a range of topical issues. Many of these topic pages will reflect the same issues that have been central to Action Network, from healthcare and schools, to public transport and policing.
Each topic page will offer the latest news stories on an issue, including TV and radio programmes, while linking to the wider debate through people’s blogs, campaigns and websites.
Many of the Action Network guides and briefings will be moved across to the BBC News Online website and will be found in the new topic pages – and will continue to help people understand how political systems work and how to get involved.

It seems to me that the big question for the BBC – and BBC Trust who will have to approve the plans – is what sort of local online activity they can hope to see in future. As Charlie Beckett questioned recently in relation to citizen journalism – what happens if they don’t come? I hope the BBC, and the Trust, will feel it’s a good idea to co-design and prototype the new system with license-payer/citizens.