Thursday, March 13, 2008

BBC International Sponsorship - Confused?

The UK Times reports today that Rolex will be the “exclusive launch partner” of, a revamped version of the corporation’s international web portal that was developed in order to generate revenue from non-licence feepayers outside the UK who use BBC web services. It seems I am one of 28 million people outside the UK who use the site.

The BBC says the sponsorship deals may generate millions of pounds and will “deliver a new flow of income from international visitors into the BBC for investment”.

BA and Airbus have already signed up. Personally, I have no objection to the ads around programmes, I am getting the programme for free. But I am concerned if BBC starts offering sponsorship packages for product placement or branding within an event, like sports. That sounds more like non-spot advertising to me, in which case the sponsorship should be clear during the credits at the end of the sequence. With World Service radio being grant-in-aid financed, but BBC World TV and being advertising supported, this makes for a confusing situation. More money for lawyers though...

Times says that Bectu, the broadcasting union, has protested to BBC management over the web advertising move. A spokeswoman said: “The BBC’s reputation at home and internationally is based on its freedom from advertising and commercial pressures. We believe this will damage the BBC’s reputation as a public service broadcaster.”

Times is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who operates rival international news networks to the BBC.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I have to say I agree with Bectu on this one. It is delusional to think you can let this camel stick its nose under the tent and not reap real and damaging consequences for public service broadcasting. Those favoring this kind of mixing action like to claim that, in the end, there is really no (or very insignificant) difference between media done for commercial purposes and media done for public service purposes. But that is only a convenient falsehood that belies the very stark differences between the results each produces.