OPINION: Time to needle the BBC about its funding remit

Paul Twivy, whose fledgling Circus agency has been briefed to make the BBC more comfortable with the marketing culture, is at pains to point out on this week’s letters page that the corporation isn’t a commercial organisation.

Paul Twivy, whose fledgling Circus agency has been briefed to make

the BBC more comfortable with the marketing culture, is at pains to

point out on this week’s letters page that the corporation isn’t a

commercial organisation.



Confused? You may well be. Because, for a public service organisation,

Auntie seems to be throwing the cloak of commercialism around herself

with astonishing enthusiasm.



That the BBC will market itself with progressive aggression is beyond

question. To do so, it is assembling a sophisticated marketing

organisation staffed by some of the best brains in the field. If it were

Mars or Procter & Gamble this would come as no surprise. But it isn’t.

What’s more, the corporation’s money-spinning activities raise questions

about its purpose that are bound to bring the decisions about its

long-term future closer.



Anomalies have to be resolved. In particular, the fact that its airwaves

remain out of bounds to advertisers while it is permitted what many see

as a flagrant abuse of licence fee money by using screen time to promote

its own programmes and products. There is a strong case to be made that

the BBC has sacrificed its sacred status and can no longer pick and

choose which bits of the market it will embrace.



The questions of whether or not the BBC should supplement licence fee

revenue by taking advertising will not easily be resolved. But the

debate needs to take place - and soon.