The BBC needs to make visible cuts in places where the British (anti-BBC) press accuse them of providing services that they believe should be provided by private companies.
If the site doesn't vanish the press wouldn't see it as a real cut, would they?
I'm ambivalent. I'm generally pro-preservation, even of ephemera, but I feel rather worse for the people getting the axe than, say, the sunsetting of the pages promoting the Concert for Diana. (After all, do we gain anything more than mild amusement that http://goo.gl/sd4xD is still up after ~15 years?)
As for the worthier sites, it looks like people should take it up with the BBC that those sites are vanishing while BBC promo fluff like http://www.badwolf.org.uk (warning: may still have sound) isn't on the list, yet.
Sure, the sites may be fluff. But they are someone's work. Promo designers are people too. They have mothers.
It's the trivial bits of history that you end up
missing the most.
And I might not be making this argument if we were talking about an old building taking up valuable space in a city, or even a shelf of books taking up space in my city library. It's a bunch of websites. Unlikely that the lot of them add up to a whole terabyte. Spend three hundred bucks on backup drives and twenty bucks a month on a Dreamhost account. 
 Sorry that I can't reliably translate "twenty bucks worth of hosting" into equivalent UK units. ;)
Curation implies some degree of selectivity to the process.
All big organisation have areas of waste but content is the BBC's raison d'être, not something that should be discarded to save money.
I'm an ex BBC Online employee. Most people don't realise quite how few people are involved in the creation and update of the BBC website. When I was there it was generally 2 people per site (and each person was on more than one site). We had a dozen staff looking after a hundred sites using old and borrowed tech and the occasional independent flash developer.
The BBC was never wasteful. Don't believe what you read in the anti-BBC press. They have their own agenda.
This puts the BBC as having a major interest in both optimal storage and transmission of streamed media. Why on earth is it not in the BBC's interest to investigate means of improving its service offering and lowering its cost base through use of improved video storage and transmission technology?
To get back to the original point as that's about maintenance of existing content, I agree 100% with those who are saying this is purely political. We have a strong strand in our commercial media which will push relentlessly for the BBC to be cut on all possible fronts because it's impinging on their ability to profit. I'm sorry, but that's rubbish. I watch more BBC than commercial content (and have done for many years) because it's better. You don't have to go very far back in history for the ITV franchise operators to have been lumbering behemoths viewed as a license to print money. The merged ITV that came out of Carlton and Granada was hardly a weak, minor player, nor is the RTL Group backed 5 family or the News Corporation backed Sky network. All are quite capable of building a serious, large-scale rival to the BBC, but they seem to dismiss it as too expensive compared to running repeats of imported clipshows.
What the BBC is doing here is absolutely wrong, but they're doing it in response to (government-favoured) self-serving political pressure from their commercial rivals and out of largely reasonable fear that if they aren't seen to do something like this themselves something worse will be forced on them. That is the core problem - excessive political attention being paid to low-quality competitors who think they have a right to the extra profit they'd have if the BBC didn't exist. They don't; I gladly pay a comparable amount for the BBC as for Sky's vastly lower quality subscription offering and the commercial media outlets need to realise this and raise their game.
Personally, as a British citizen and license-payer, I'm quite happy for the BBC to spend money on research and development (if well-thought and efficient; perhaps in this case it was misplaced), and I'm glad that the BBC is pushing technologies like video-over-internet compared to some of the more dinosaur-like traditional media companies.
Time to go watch some more BBC4 streaming over IP.
They could give the domains to me I'll maintain them.
I assume that the downvoters can explain how this is not infringing or how I'm not adding to the thread by noting this fact that some may not wholly realise?
This is the advantage of being a taxpayer-funded player in the media business, they simply do not have to care about monetizing their content if they don't feel like it. It is already paid for before it's made. They have been operating an unofficial policy of allowing pirates to act as a distribution network for years. This will probably change when they launch the paid iPlayer overseas.
It is also the reason why murdoch and by extension the murdoch press attack the BBC constantly. They see it as unfair, and it is, but it isn't about being fair to the murdoch empire. It's about getting a good deal on good TV for the british people.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/terms/personal.shtml#4 - personal use, excerpt:
"Nothing in the Terms grants you a right or licence to use any trade mark, design right or copyright owned or controlled by the BBC or any other third party except as expressly provided in the Terms."
http://www.bbc.co.uk/terms/business.shtml#2 - business terms, excerpt:
"2.1.1 you may not copy, reproduce, republish, disassemble, decompile, reverse engineer, download, post, broadcast, transmit, distribute, lend, hire, sub-license, rent, perform, make a derivative work from, make available to the public, adapt, alter, edit, re-position, frame, rebrand, change or otherwise use in any way any BBC Online Services and/or BBC Content in whole or in part on your product or service or elsewhere or permit or assist any third party to do the same except to the extent permitted at law ("Restricted Acts");"
FWIW I think that BBC created content should be under a liberal license like CC-BY-NC but it isn't; whether they press for legal action is orthogonal to the matter of it's lawfulness.
There are of course other possibilities, hence why I posed the question, they might be outside the Berne Convention/TRIPS countries and not be bound by copyright law, for example.
Well, no. Obviously they don't realize that, or else they disagree on some more fundamental point, or they wouldn't have said whatever they said in the first place— which I assume you actually do realize.
So it's a very disingenuous way of communicating. All it really says is "I think I know more about this than you, but I decided not to be nice about informing you," which isn't a very productive way to start a conversation.
They mention take down notices which means they are aware of online copyright issues. I was attempting both to confirm that they felt this was tortuously infringing activity and giving the opportunity to respond with their moral justification.
>Well, no. Obviously they don't realize that
To recapitulate: if they mentioned "take down notices" then they appear to be living in the USA, aware of copyright in online material and cognisant of the Digitial Millenium Copyright Act (just an informed guess) as a minimum; my point was to confirm this and, like I said, dig for a response (without leading them on as to what sort of response to make - moral, legal, technical, political, ...).
The question was also serving as a flag for the issue for other readers.
So, whilst I'm prepared to entertain an argument that I was being disingenuous I'm afraid your premises are false and thus the reasoned conclusions equally unsound.
If you're looking to establish a relevant argument to the content of the thread then perhaps civil disobedience WRT copyright would be the way to go; there are strong arguments that the BBC should back a change in UK law as proposed elsewhere to ensure release of such works in to the public domain.
If your aim is indeed to start a productive dialogue, I'd consider something more like, "That's a noble thought, but aren't you worried about the copyright implications?"
Just because virtual book burning is easier than hunting down and burning real books doesn't make it any more acceptable.
Copyright is a contract between the state (the people) and you. You get protection from unlicensed copying of your works in exchange for release to the PD - if you don't disseminate your works then the public have no right to force them to be released into the PD.
There is possibly a loose end here but generally one can retain a copy for your own personal use (like keeping newspaper clippings) but you can't put this (or any substantial part of it) in a publicly accessible place.
Chin up, champ, you'll figure that out someday, and maybe the appropriate use of condescension too!
Humans often have a hoarding instinct, and it's hard to shake that temptation. How many of us keep every email ever sent to us over the last 10 years? How many of us have 1TB of personal storage on our PCs. and we're running out of space? How many of us have the phone bill from 5 years ago filed neatly away in some box? Let some stuff go.
5 years is, IIRC, the term for keeping records for tax purposes where I am .. worth checking before discarding all your old records.
What they should do is make sure the Internet Archive has it all. And then stop hosting it, stop paying for the domains.
These websites are only mentioned in dramas, they are pretty much useless after a few weeks. If you're watching first series Dr Who and want to see the sites, you can live with using the Internet Archive (Wayback machine).
They're worth at least a little more than their domain names and content costs by virtue of them being SEO bait. "Bad Wolf" could be a good company [trading] name or band name if you could buy out the top spot in the listings from the BBC.