BBC Workers Oppose Online Ads Plan

31 October 2006

LONDON: UK publicly-funded broadcaster the BBC is under fire from some of its own staff over proposals to include advertising on its websites.

Executives at the corporation, which derives most of its income through annual license fees paid by the nation's television-owning households, want to attract online ads that would be seen only by overseas users.

BBC television and radio stations do not carry any advertising for domestic consumption but its BBC Worldwide channel outside the UK is ad supported.

Staff working for the websites fear increasing commercialization could adversely affect the broadcaster's impartiality and weaken its reputation for serious news coverage. Earlier this year more than 170 of them made plain their opposition by signing a petition against the plan.

The BBC's commercial rivals, on the other hand, are more concerned by the mighty corporation's potential to divert online ad revenues.

Comments Roy Greenslade, media professor at London's City University: "In the end they [the BBC] have to be extremely careful about how they do it to be sure they don't slide into becoming a commercial broadcaster."

A BBC spokeswoman responds: "We're still working through the approval process."

She concedes, however that the idea has met with some resistance and adds: "There is absolutely no question of advertisers having any influence over the content."

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff