Magazine article Marketing

In Seven Days the BBC Re-Created a 'Public' Service

Magazine article Marketing

In Seven Days the BBC Re-Created a 'Public' Service

Article excerpt

As you sit worrying about the future of William Hague or whether your latest ad campaign is likely to win a prize, you might be excused for forgetting just how remarkable a week this is for the British media. Or, to be precise, for the cornerstone of public service broadcasting, the BBC.

The astonishing week began with the launch on Sunday of three new UK TV channels in the Flextech/BBC joint venture, plus the relaunched UK Gold. Now you really will be able to advertise on the BBC to UK viewers on a hitherto impossible scale.

The fact that the BBC has been expunged from these channels to try to smudge the link between the Corporation's programmes and advertising does not disguise the importance of what has taken place. The BBC has lovingly prepared a slippery slope for itself, and marketers who want to see advertising on BBC terrestrial TV have been presented with the means to give it the first shove.

At the moment, UK TV is, of course, modest and could well remain so. But what if the joint venture flourishes on both cable and satellite and numbers of UK viewers get accustomed to watching BBC programmes surrounded by ads? It could become a material fact with the government when the future of the licence fee is reviewed in the year 2001.

Today (Wednesday) sees the launch of the BBC online news service - just as remarkable for the future of the BBC as UK TV, although this time the money is coming from the licence fee. Optimists about the speed of technological development will salute the Beeb's perspicaciousness, although the odd niggle remains. …

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