Two media trade groups, the National Union Journalists and the British Internet Publishers’ Alliance, have asked the BBC to scrap plans to place advertising on the BBC home page.
The BBC announced that it was examining the possibility of funding the non-UK version of BBC.co.uk through online banner advertising in March 2006. According to the UK media stalwart, its website gets more than a billion hits a month from foreign sources, and advertising there could yield a large source of income.
However, critics both inside and outside the BBC say that it would corrode the organization’s credibility and present unwanted competition to other online UK businesses. “The proposal by the BBC to sell advertising on its websites is a major concern to all commercial publishers who are investing in making the UK a centre of excellence in the digital age,” said Hugo Drayton, chairman of the British Internet Publisher’s Alliance (BIPA), in a statement.
The BIPA trade group includes numerous commercial publishers. The group is seeking government intervention that would prevent the BBC from using online ads. “It is essential to set clear limits on the BBC’s ambitions, and to ensure they do not restrict competitive services provided by the market commercially,” he added.
The BBC Trust, the BBC’s regulatory organization, is expected to announce whether or not it will be using online advertising by February 21st.
The National Union Journalists (NUJ), a trade union for journalists in Britain and Ireland followed the BIPA. “This move could lead to a greater and worrying commercialisation of the BBC website,” said NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear, adding, “…the Trust should think again before opening the door to such commercialization.”