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Advertising on the World Service must be stopped

12 February 2014

The NUJ has condemned plans by the BBC to carry advertising and sponsored content on the World Service.

In a letter to staff, Peter Horrocks, director of the global news division, said: 

"The BBC Trust has agreed that, subject to clearance from government, the World Service can broadcast a limited amount of advertising and sponsored content that is not news and current affairs, from 1 April.  This decision is outlined in the Trust’s board minutes which were published yesterday.
"Yesterday I was questioned by the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Commons. Throughout the session it was clear that the committee continue to place a very high value on the World Service. We discussed the future of the World Service, including commercial funding, and I was clear that this would only ever constitute a small percentage of our overall budget.
"This top-up funding will enable us to make new investments and reach even more people around the world. However, maintaining our editorial integrity, and our commitment to broadcast impartial and independent news, will always take precedence over commercial goals."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"NUJ members at the BBC believe that any advertising or sponsored content in World Service radio will devalue the brand and threaten the impartiality of BBC World Service programmes. We call on the BBC Trust to reverse this extremely foolish and dangerous decision. Given that the BBC is able to waste £100 million on a failed IT project, there should be no question of this proposal going ahead."

Tags: , bbc, commercialisation, advertising, broadcasting, peter horrocks, bbc world service