BBC May Buck ‘No Ads’ Tradition With Online Sites

31 October 2000

After nearly eighty years of eschewing the demon advertising - other than its own programme promotions - Britain's publicly owned broadcaster, the British Broadcasting Corporation, is mulling the acceptance of third party ads on its online services.

Such a decision would not be welcome by the BBC’s new media rivals, nor by politicians ideologically opposed to the concept. Such concerns, however, cut little ice with the BBC’s newly appointed director general, the former commercial TV multimillionaire Greg Dyke., the international offshoot of the BBC’s commercial arm BBC Worldwide, already takes ads and Dyke is considering extending this to parts of the online service directed at domestic, licence-fee paying users.

The BBC is funded by an annual levy of £104 ($151) on all households with a television receiver, irrespective of whether or not they view BBC programmes. But it claims not to use public money to fund BBC Worldwide, under whose aegis all online activities are run. Dyke is currently reviewing the latter to see how it can make more money.

BBC strategists, says Dyke, are assessing the online “commercial opportunities and …the public service obligations”. He believes: "There are commercial opportunities. But how big they are and how much they are worth? That is what we are looking at."

He stressed that such thinking is at an early stage and that BBC Online's news and education services would remain free of advertisements. Dyke remains adamant in his opposition to advertising on BBC television and radio.

News source: Financial Times