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Should BBC World Service be commercialised?

The recent announcement that the BBC World Service is going to become commercialised has caused much debate. To be clear, the commercialisation does not apply to the whole of the output. In fact, UK-based listeners will notice no difference and the corporation has made it clear that this will remain the case and advertising will only be carried in foreign markets. In addition, Peter Horrocks (BBC Director of News) categorically promised that commercialisation would in no way affect the journalistic integrity of the output of the BBC.


The problem, I think, is the emotional attachment to the BBC – as soon as you hear it’s going to take advertising, a part of you immediately screams ‘no’! But advertising on the BBC isn’t new; there has already been an extensive trial on Berlin FM without complaint or comment from listeners. In addition, BBC websites abroad have carried advertising for some time.


When you stand back and look objectively, it's not that big a deal. The sums we’re talking about are small when considering how much the World Service costs to run. However, that being said, the revenue goes some way to plug the hole created when the Foreign Office withdrew its funding, therefore allowing the World Service to continue to run in countries that would otherwise be cut.