BBC Dodges Online Ad Decision

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The BBC Trust has pushed back the decision on how to use online advertising on the BBC website after receiving criticism from journalist and publisher trade groups and its own employees, who fear that online advertising could increase online competition and erode the public news organization’s credibility.

Late last year, the BBC began to consider placing online advertising banners on the non-UK version of the BBC website, a proposition that the BBC estimated could yield between £48 million and £105 million per year. Commercial competitors say that additional revenue from online ads would give the BBC, which already receives funding through the UK’s television licensing system, an unfair advantage.

Both the National Union Journalists and the British Internet Publishers’ Alliance publicly asked the BBC to scrap its online ad ambitions.

“The Trust must act in the public interest. We seek evidence to inform our discussions and reach our decisions through a mix of factual analysis and judgment,” said BBC chairman Chitra Bharucha in a statement. “Governing a creative organization on behalf of the public—whose BBC it is—allows for no other approach.”

The Trust met this past Wednesday February 21st to decide the issue but determined that more decisions needed to be made about how the online advertising revenue will be spent. The Trust believes that the BBC needs to invest more of itself online, but says it can’t use the television licensing funds to do that.

The Trust expects to render its decision in the Spring.

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