Magazine article Marketing

Amanda Andrews on Media: Strictly Does It, BBC

Magazine article Marketing

Amanda Andrews on Media: Strictly Does It, BBC

Article excerpt

The corporation must rein in its commercial impulses if it, and its ad-funded rivals, are to survive.

On Friday 27 February the BBC carried a day of programming tied in with the release of U2's album No Line on the Horizon. It culminated in a 'surprise' gig played by the band on the roof of Broadcasting House, bringing two of the biggest names in media and entertainment to sit side by side. A dedicated web page titled 'U2=BBC' remains on the BBC's site, further unifying the two established brands.

RadioCentre, which represents commercial radio, has rightly criticised the BBC for such excessive promotion of well-known bands. Aside from the wall-to-wall U2 coverage, it has also complained about what it believes to be excessive use of BBC branding on ads for Coldplay's Viva la Vida tour; a newspaper ad for the tour featuring the Radio 1 logo clearly leads to the perception of endorsement by such a trusted and established brand.

If the BBC Trust imposed tougher guidelines, it could curb such blanket coverage and reduce such perceptions.

Commercial radio's latest battle is worth fighting. It is currently feeling the uncomfortable effects of a structural and economic downturn, and it could be argued that the BBC has a responsibility to aid the sector, not steal its audience share.

Advertisers - who are, at times, being deprived of a strong commercial platform to exhibit their brands - would be more attracted to a commercial station broadcasting interviews and regular live music with big acts. The BBC should be guiding and encouraging the commercial sector, not encroaching on its territory.

The question of whether the corporation has been overstepping the mark was addressed by last week's publication of a report by the Commons culture, media and sport select committee investigation into its commercial operations.

The MPs fairly criticised BBC Worldwide for buying and expanding Lonely Planet, saying it should not make more acquisitions in the vein of the majority stake it acquired in the travel guides business.

I understand that Worldwide's remit is to make money - a job it has done well to date; but only a company linked to the publicly funded BBC could afford to launch a glossy travel title, like the monthly Lonely Planet Magazine, in a recession, when fewer people are travelling and adspend has declined.

With the likes of rival magazines Wanderlust and Conde Nast Traveller competing with a wealth of newspaper travel supplements, the travel market is already well catered for. …

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