Ok, this is apparently old news, alas, I only noticed this was happening today and do not remember any debate or discussion on it at the time.
It seems, BBC is serving up Google Adsense advertisements on its online content for non-UK visitors. The only reason I noticed this was because I do most of my web-browsing using a VPN I setup in annoyance at the general capitulation of UK ISPs with requests to monitor their users’ browsing habits. Proof, as they say, is in the pudding…
There is actually reference to this in the BBC’s Advertising Policy:
The first paragraph states,
“The BBC is not permitted to carry advertising or sponsorship on its public services. This keeps them independent of commercial interests and ensures that they can be run instead to serve the general public interest.”
Which outlines the basic rationale behind why the BBC is not commercially funded, saying so explicitly,
“If the BBC sold airtime either wholly or partially, advertisers and other commercial pressures would dictate its programme and schedule priorities.”
However, the last paragraph says these conditions do not apply for BBC’s services outside the UK,
“The BBC runs additional commercial services around the world. These are not financed by the licence fee but are kept quite separate from the BBC’s public services. Profits are used to help keep the licence fee low so that UK licence fee payers can benefit commercially from their investment in programmes.”
If the BBC’s independence and impartiality would potentially be hindered by advertising in the UK then it is surely because of potential influence the advertiser gains by virtue of payment. That same logic does not cease to apply based on geographic location: advertising is advertising and money is money, no matter where on earth you are.
Call be daft but does the BBC’s policy not appear slightly self-contradictory?