Get this: 150 BBC writers, editors, designers and TV correspondents have signed a petition protesting the company’s plans to run ads on the international version its news site. According to a MediaGuardian article, “The letter, which has been sent to the BBC director general, Mark Thompson, says any move to include ads would damage the corporation’s global reputation for impartiality and distinctiveness.”
Evidently the site has been funded primarily by the British Foreign Office but now it’s being “transferred to the BBC’s commercial offshoot, BBC Worldwide, which is charged with maximising revenues.”
Some argue that “government money would dry up if advertising was included” and others (with no clue) think “commercial rivals would also complain about the BBC further encroaching on their businesses.” Don’t get me wrong, I understand that they think the beeb may have an unfair advantage since it’s government supported, but why would BBC staffers worry about the competition complaining? It seems like they’d want the competition to have a rougher time of it, but I suppose maybe there’s more to it than meets the eye.
The BBC conducted a user survey about this very topic recently. I wonder how that turned out. Anyway, it looks like the BBC journalism board was to decide on this today.
My take: Hey, life would be grand if nothing required ad support (sorry marketers!). But the fact is that those ad dollars might help ensure that those petitioners have jobs. All the well-respected papers on this side of the pond carry advertising, and some lots of it, both in their print and online editions. Rarely has it caused controversy.