Archive for December, 2007

BBC defeated – website to be funded by adverts

Adverts are being shown on the BBC website for the first time ever.

BBC with 2 advertsIt's shocking to see 2 large banner ads dominating what was a masterly crafted design.

The BBC website used to be the only high quality advert-free news service in the world (Wikipedia is the closest free equivalent). But due to the last Charter Review it now looks like all the other news websites of the world: distracting adverts, cluttered pages and messages encouraging us to consume, consume, consume.

It's a cop out. Another nail in the coffin for alternatives to capitalism. The BBC was a bastion; living proof that there are better alternatives to private businesses providing news and entertainment.

Four reasons why this is wrong:

1. No longer for sharing

Only people outside the UK should* see the adverts. Foreigners don't pay towards the BBC, so apparently it's fair for us to show them adverts to help pay for it. But we don't need any more money! The whole point of the BBC is that it is funded through an annual License Fee. The British public pay £135.50 for their TV license. If we're already paying for the content to be created, why not just let the rest of the world benefit from it too? The BBC is something that we have always shared with the world. We should be proud to continue sharing it, rather than pimping it out.

2. Destroying values

Adverts devalue your image and turn people off. By placing adverts on your website, you turn into a salesman. The relationship between your visitor and you changes. No longer are you providing something for their benefit free of charge. It reduces trust and it reduces the perceived value and credibility of your service.

3. Conflict of interest

BBC.com managing director, Kym Niblock, said:

"To have these global brands [British Airways, Airbus and Hublot] on board as our launch partners [advertisers] is a great validation of the thinking behind BBC.com. We're looking to generate revenue for the BBC by monetising its international traffic and these advertisers show the hunger that's out there for the audience we can offer."

Do you think that the BBC is likely to publish a negative news story about any one of these companies now that they are receiving £millions per annum in advertising from that company? If you are funded by the public, you will serve the public. If you are funded by advertisers, you will serve the advertisers.

4. The beginning of the end

This could be the beginning of the end for the BBC. It's historic success has been made possible by it's unique method of funding.

If an increasing share of it's funding comes from advertising, the BBC will become just another broadcaster chasing the advertising dollar. Let's not let that happen. At the next funding review in 9 years time, let's change the funding sources to public money to preserve the values of the BBC.

*I can see the adverts from my house in Reading, Berkshire. The BBC's ad-serving technology uses your IP address to determine whether or not you are in the UK. The system is apparently 99.96% accurate, but it mistakenly thinks that my computer is outside the UK. I've reported this so that I stop seeing the ads.

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