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Product placement on BBC World News is creeping commercialisation and must be stopped

17 April 2015

The NUJ has branded the plans by BBC World News, the global news channel, as creeping commercialisation that should have no place on a public service broadcaster.

The BBC said product placement would not appear on news and current affairs programmes, but would appear on technology, sport and travel documentaries, such as the Travel Show. The corporation took on funding responsibilities for the BBC World Service last year following  Mark Thompson's disastrous the 2010 licence fee settlement, which froze the licence fee at the same time as paying for duties, including the World Service, S4C and BBC Monitoring.

There is already product placement on the BBC’s other commercial channels. Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

“The decision to allow product placement on BBC World News is another perilous step along the path to commercialisation at our public service broadcaster.

“Assurances from the BBC that this move in no way compromises editorial integrity ring hollow – this fundamentally devalues what the corporation stands for. Licence fee payers want to know their BBC and the news and programming it produces is free from commercial pressures.  They don’t want or expect to be peddled products by Auntie.

“The gradual mission creep of commercialisation that the NUJ has been warning about for some is clearly gaining apace. At a time when the BBC’s enemies are circling, and a new licence fee settlement that guarantees quality journalism and programming is vital, this decision makes no sense.

“Product placement comes on the back of increasing use of BBC World News content being broadcast on the BBC News channel. It’s wrong that viewers tune in expecting to see content produced under the public service ethos we prize in the BBC, only to get commercially-funded output, paid for by adverts overseas.”

A BBC Global News spokeswoman  told the Guardian:

“BBC World News will trial product placement within a limited number of its non-news programmes for an initial period of a year, after which the policy will be reviewed.This change brings BBC World News in line with the BBC’s other commercial channels. Each proposal to reference a sponsor will be carefully considered at group director level on a case by case basis and will only be allowed when it is both editorially justified and in line with Ofcom’s guidelines. On those occasions it will be clearly marked with the universal product placement logo to ensure transparency for the audience.”

Tags: , bbc, broadcasting, advertising, bbc world news, public service broadcasting