MEDIA: BBC News Online to expand its arts site

BBC News Online has chosen Oscars night to launch an expanded arts,

entertainment and showbiz section.

Seven sections covering arts, theatre, showbiz, music, new media, design

and film will go live on 25 March.

The move comes after a pounds 400,000 investment by the BBC. Six

journalists have been hired, taking the team to ten.

Jackie Finlay, formerly news editor of BBC News Online's UK section,

will edit the newly-created sections.

Finlay said the expansion was partly aimed at attracting more women and

younger people to the service.

'The profile of readers at the moment is mainly 25 to 45-year-old men,

so we're looking to change that,' she said.

Finlay added that the site would cover weightier issues, such as arts

funding, as well as lighter entertainment and showbiz news.

Regular features on the site will include interactive forums, diaries

from writers, musicians and directors, celebrity reviews and guest


BBC News arts correspondents Rosie Millard and Nick Higham will both

contribute columns.

The service will also supply news feeds to other BBC arts and film


Finlay denied that the service would have an impact on the BBC's Radio

Times site, which also carries entertainment and arts features.

'We work fairly closely with BBC Online and what we're doing here is the

news angle. If we have any big features we will no doubt work with


BBC News Online attracts 140 million hits per month and is the biggest

internet news service outside the US.

The Oscars-night launch will feature live webcasts from the awards and

after-parties and celebrity interviews.

BBC News has appointed Jay Hunt as Six O'Clock News editor. She

replaces Mark Popescu who moves to Ten O'Clock in a reshuffle which also

sees Chris Rybczynski become One O'Clock News editor.

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