BBC Accused of 'Selectivity' Over Website Ads Research

17 September 2007

LONDON: The commercial unit of the publicly-funded British Broadcasting Coprporation stands accused of ignoring market research that urged caution over plans to introduce advertising on its international website.

The Guardian newspaper claims BBC Worldwide was selective about two studies in the USA which concluded that users of its website "unequivocally" believed ads would reduce their trust in the broadcaster's brand.

Instead, says the newspaper, the corporation paid greater heed to a later survey that was more positive towards online ads.

Under a Freedom of Information request, the BBC has conceded to the Guardian that "some of the individuals in the focus group who were interviewed indicated that they felt the association of certain brands with the BBC would have a negative impact on the BBC's own brand".

It continues: "However, this research was simply one of a number of pieces of work that formed part of a wider study that concluded that advertising on would not damage the BBC brand."

BBC Worldwide has been looking for alternative ways to fund the international website, currently financed via a licence fee paid by every television-owning household in the land.

The online ad route has to be approved by the broadcaster's regulators, the BBC Trust, which has postponed making a decision, but is expected to do so next month.

Some BBC staff have raised concerns that ads would undermine international editorial credibility and the corporation's public service ethos.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff