BBC Pirate
The BBC Pirates
Avast ye scurvy dogs! Ye can watch any channel ye like, so long as ye pay us first.

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Lies, Denial and Blackjack

Advertising

The idea that the BBC does not advertise is something of a misnomer. What are they showing between programmes? - ads for their own programmes, competing for eyeballs against commercial operators. Is it too much to expect an “unbias” organisation to cross-promote, encouraging viewers to engage in a broader selection of content? For the BBC, “no advertising” equates to self-indulgent propaganda.

How often does a leading BBC news report get conveniently supplemented with an advert for BBC’s Panorama? Maybe they could swap it out for Channel 4’s Unreported World instead? And while the BBC does sometimes talk about programming on other channels, they usually end up inserting snide remarks.

Or, how is it the BBC works so hard to avoid undue product placement yet sometimes let them in? - for example, EastEnders do not show a Google search page yet an actor is allowed to say “Simples!”; a timely reference to the advert for comparethemarket.com.

And therein lies a big problem; providing a so called “ad free service” yet increasingly finding itself “competing” for audience attention. The BBC must somehow keep the corporation’s responsibilities as a public service broadcaster and equally fulfill it’s remit of its global commercial arm to maximise profits.

Political Bias

The BBC plays a careful game of blackjack; political balance is maintained with house advantage. There are times when the BBC is happy to toe the government line. Take, for example, the humanitarian appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) for Gaza in 2009. The BBC refused to broadcast the appeal and denied political bias. It’s reason? - “to avoid any risk of compromising public confidence in the BBC’s impartiality in the context of [a] news story”. Politics before humanity when it suits them.

Another example would be royal weddings which are allowed to take centre stage in the name of “public interest”. Few would disagree, the BBC is king of pomp. And there’s nothing wrong with that, except the flipside is little or no coverage of other worldwide events. Public opinion is split over how much coverage domestic or international news should get. Indeed, this is a recurring theme, where one might soemtimes watch the BBC news and conclude the world was at peace.

If it’s not already clear, the BBC’s game is often played out, not in it’s coverage of worldwide reporting, but rather cherry picking the news to concentrate our minds while simultaneously turning a blind eye to other significant events or points of view.

Pacesetting

It is sometimes argued, somewhat arrogantly, that BBC programming sets a bar for other broadcasters to achieve. The truth is, commercial broadcasters are already fighting two major battles. First there is falling revenue from advertising as viewing habits change and diversify. Secondly, traditional broadcasting is subject to higher scrutiny and standards than it’s Internet counterparts.

Thus, the balance of the argument lies between the setting of standards for content verses significant interference with free market forces. Simply put, commercial broadcasters are forced to compete with an organisation which never has to ask it’s “customers” on a one-by-one basis for financial support.


Copyright © 2011 - 2016 Mark Ford