OPINION: Nobody wins if the Beeb relents and accepts ads

Some of you will be reading this column at the annual conference of the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers in London. At the conference, you will almost certainly hear from the podium at least one plea for the BBC to take ads.

Some of you will be reading this column at the annual conference of

the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers in London. At the

conference, you will almost certainly hear from the podium at least one

plea for the BBC to take ads.



It’s an old chestnut, resurrected on an annual basis around about the

time of Monte Carlo/Barcelona and the ISBA event, and then it goes away

again.



The difference this time is that what’s said on the platform is linked

to ISBA’s submission to the Davies Committee as it prepares to debate

the future of the BBC in the broadcast landscape.



There is no doubt that a few very significant UK advertisers are behind

such a move, and that their spend and long-term commitment to

advertising must be accorded respect.



But is there any evidence at all that any other interested party (that

means all of us, on one level, as viewers) wishes to see ads on the

Beeb?



Countless surveys suggest otherwise. Agencies know that such a move

would only drag the reputation of advertising, and the people therein,

further through the mud. And any government that allows ads on the Beeb

would be taking a huge risk with the general public.



So it definitely won’t happen under Blair’s regime.



Agencies don’t want it, the public doesn’t want it, and many other

clients don’t want it - partly because clients are viewers too, and

partly because they are smart enough to know that the minute you allow

ads on the Beeb, you plunge into an even worse ratings war than exists

already. Suddenly the BBC is making Who Wants to be a Millionaire? too.

Before you know it, money moves off ITV, straight out of its programme

budget.



In truth, no-one wins. And, there is much more to this debate than what

matters to advertisers. Unlike the recent News at Ten red herring, this

genuinely is an issue of national concern. Let’s kill the idea stone

dead now before we waste much of the next year killing it slowly.



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