Australian Broadcasting Company Director Defuses Online Ad Criticism

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Mark Scott, managing director of the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC), addressed staff speculations that the publicly funded network would be seeking to monetize its content online through advertising.

The ABC is Australia’s equivalent of Britain’s BBC. The BBC faced controversy earlier this year as it sought to implement advertising on its international website and online videos. During a radio interview last week Scott said the ABC had “No plans for advertising on radio and television,” leading five ABC broadcasters to respond with a joint letter accusing him of leaving the door open for advertising online.

The letter read: “While you conveyed the semblance of an assurance that the non-commercial character of the ABC would be maintained, a careful listener might reasonably conclude you are open to advertisements surrounding ABC product on the web.”

Scott sought to clarify the issue telling the newspaper The Australian that the ABC board would “certainly be doing nothing to undermine our editorial independence,” and that “no imminent changes are being proposed.” He did, however, point out that ABC content has been monetized by advertising through its print magazines since 1938 and that ads appear on an external website for the ABC TV show Countdown, but that ads will go no further than that.

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