Serving professional journalism since 1912

Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

Journalists condemn ads on BBC


9 JANUARY 2012

Plans to allow advertising on the BBC World Service have been condemned as a damaging precedent – and likely to prove “the thin end of the wedge” for BBC broadcasting.

The attack comes from the oldest organisation representing media workers – The London-based Chartered Institute of Journalists, and follows an announcement that the BBC Trust has approved a year-long pilot scheme to permit adverts to appear on BBC World Service.


The Corporation says that the move follows a Government request that the World Service generate £3million by 2013/14 to compensate for budget cuts made necessary by the end of Foreign Office funding.  The Service’s Berlin frequency and its Arabic, Spanish and Russian Websites will all carry advertising.

The Chairman of the Institute’s Broadcasting Division, Paul Leighton said: “The move utterly undermines the BBC’s world-wide image as a source of authoritative news and information, totally independent and free from commercial or governmental influences”.

With the BBC’s licence fee income frozen for some years, he warned that the move set a precedent which could lead to advertising appearing on other BBC Radio outlets. “For years there have been calls from some MP’s for domestic Radio to carry advertising.  Once this step has been taken those calls will become louder and more difficult to resist.   Which branch of the BBC will be next on the list,   BBC Radio 1?  Radio 2? The Corporation’s Local Radio stations?”

The Chartered Institute is writing to the BBC Trust urging them not to proceed with the pilot and lobby Government for the restoration of Foreign Office “grant-in-aid”.



Note to Editors

• Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK and the Commonwealth.