back to article BBC to advertise to foreigners

UK public broadcaster the BBC is adding advertising to broadband-delivered video news service when it is delivered outside the UK. The shift to online delivery of video could make a huge difference to the BBC, which is paid for entirely by an annual public levy of around $270 per household across the 24 million or so TV homes …


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  1. Paul


    Why are the amounts in $?????

  2. Karl Lattimer

    About frickin' time

    The beeb have been squandering my license on foreigners for too damn long! Maybe now they'll make some worth while programs

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great but ditch the MS DRM

    Great, but scrap the XP only iPlayer and go for an open codec that can be implemented across regular TV devices.

    That way it (the codec, the ability to play the bbc steam) will appear in a lot of satellite decoders, and Tivo style boxes, and no doubt would also appear in Media Centre, Apple iTV box,Myth TV boxes, HD VCRs, PS3, XBox, Wii etc..

    You don't need to invest in the development of these, you just have to make the content available in say vanilla Mpeg4 with a program guide in a XML format and leave the rest to the device makers.

    Tack your adverts onto the Mpeg streams and deliver the appropriate Mpeg stream by IP address.

    So it would gain a bigger worldwide viewing audience than the niche people who want to watch it at their desks on a PC screen.

    At the moment, you've simply doomed the Beeb to be a niche player.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "This has been made possible by recent advances in geo identity software which can distinguish which country each web viewer is viewing from."

    I had a look at this - the browser showed me a picture of some trousers, and I had to type into a box the name of the item of clothing, and of course I typed "trousers", and I was told to go away. Of course I should have typed "pants". The next test had a little drawing of a car with an arrow pointing to the bonnet so I gave up.

  5. Guy

    About Time

    If this means those of us outside the UK can access the equivalent of the iPlayer then I welcome it!

    Being an englishman abroad makes you appreciate what you had with the BBC, and BBC America just doesn't show any of the decent programs (Unless you love changing rooms, and period dramas)

    I would happily put up with some ad's to get this service, although I'd be happier still to be able to pay the licence fee as a subscription and get full BBC1 and BBC2 service, but that's never going to happen.

    Or to put it in a more El Reg context, I want my Dr Who when it's shown not months afterwards! (Especially with Kylie in it)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And Why Not?

    I'm all for it personally, if they're benefitting from the BBC's service why shouldn't our overseas friends contribute (albeit indirectly) to its funding? So long as the extra income results in an improvement in the Beeb's programming. I think the first priority should be to bin pretty much ALL of the BBC3 content (bar a couple of exceptions) and start again, this time producing something good instead.

    Who knows, we might even be able to get some sport other than golf, snooker, athletics and horses onto terrestrial TV.

  7. Dave Murray

    Recent advances in geo identity software?

    Would that be the same geo identity software that serves me some web sites in French when I'm at a factory in Erskine, Scotland because France is where their ISP is based? Or the software that offers me services in the south of England when I visit some sites from my home in Glasgow?

    As soon as the BBC start showing these adverts I'll start lobbying my MP and MSP to stop the license fee. Either they're a commercial organisation or a public service, they can't have it both ways.

  8. David Webb

    Both Dave

    The BBC has two arms already Dave, their Public arm which shows BBC content on the telly without adverts and their commercial arm which pumps out DVD's, books and other items as a commercial entity.

    As a resident of the UK however you are able to access the content you require (BBC News) on BBC News 24, you don't need the internet, the suggestion is that the BBC starts advertising their webcasts for non fee payers is "a good thing".

    The question on if the BBC would then spend it on *big* content like paying £1m per episode of Lost is - no. They will still have to give the best value for money possible and paying huge amounts of cash for one programme is not value for money (they won't even pay £5m for Neighbours over 3 years).

  9. Matt Jordan

    Re: Dollers

    Probably because British people know the exchange rate... where as American's tend to be so insular its assumed they wont.

    If it is the case, then it makes me smile the El Reg feels they have to dumb it down for the yanks :)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    go commercial all the way

    All arguments FOR the license fee are based on the past.

    Aside from a very few (Dr Who, Coast) the BBC no longer make many quality programs instead opting to spank hundreds of thousands on american made stuff like Heroes (not that i have anything against american programs).

    They look and act like a commercial broadcaster so they should fund themselves like one!

    Even our esteemed leader and the one before (Blair and Brown) always went on ITV (GMTV) to do public broadcasts... where is the public service broadcasting that needs my license fee? I'd rather give my money to Sky.

  11. Martin Owens


    How do they cut this with their current BBC world wide segments? I mean the BBC as a UK content producer and public service is great and it'll be nice having our beloved culture splashed all over device screen worldwide (i.e what the FA payments and BBC worldwide are for) but how are the BBC going to square this with BBC america or any of the other distribution channels such as the US-Sci-fi channel who currently buy into BBC content?

    By the way, those anti-tax people complaining about the license fee should just experience TV when it's all commercial. it's crap and politically in this world of big business I appreciate the BBC with a tiny amount of accountability (which is being slowly etched away by business thinkers within the BBC) than yet another business that never does anything the share holders don't like.

  12. Jasmine Strong

    This isn't really new

    They already put ads on BBC America and BBC Worldwide, after all. Plus they don't show any of the better or newer programmes :-(

  13. Paul

    Seems fair enough to me

    I'm a UK expat living in the US and have no problem with the idea of advertising-supported BBC content outside of the UK if it means I can get access to better quality news programming than the utterly useless, dumbed-down, celebrity-obsessed, ratings-chasing sensationalist horse crap that passes for "news" here (the latest laugh-a-minute is Inside Edition and their horror story about people being run over by those big electric carts at airports; I say if you wander into the path of a vehicle that goes BEEP-BEEP-BEEP and has flashing warning lights on it, then tough luck for being so inattentive, no news segment here, move along please).

    It's not as if I haven't learned to ignore the advertising anyway, living in the States you pretty much have to...

  14. David Webb

    Licence Fee

    "All arguments FOR the license fee are based on the past."

    Wrong, the BBC is able, through the unique way it is funded, to supply programmes which could be considered "a huge risk!". The sort of programmes commercial channels would not touch. Yes they also show a ton of crap appealing to the lowest common denominator, but they also show lots of high quality programming that otherwise would'nt be shown.

    If the BBC were to go commercial they would have to try to compete directly with the other channels to appease their sponsors. As much as we all love Top Gear having it on every single day because it pulls in so many punters would be a bad thing, you would also probably lose sports that don't pull in huge figures (snooker for instance) as the viewing figures may not be high enough to pay for the rights to broadcast.

    Then we get down to the fact that the BBC (because it doesnt have adverts) gives a lot more telly than commercial channels.

    If we say that each hour we get 12 minutes worth of adverts. There are 24 hours in a day so each day we get 288 minutes of adverts a day, so every year we get hit with 1,752 hours or 73 days worth of adverts a year. Then you got to take into account *where* the adverts go, our 30 minute programmes will now be 24 minute programmes and our 1 hour programmes knocked down to 45 minutes worth of (dumbed down) content.

    We should be thankful that we pay the fee and get the BBC, it gives us something to watch for 6 minutes whilst the other sides are showing adverts before the next programme starts, and dont even get me started on the horrible fad of sticking adverts 2 minutes after the show started (lost/smallville etc.)

  15. Norman Bowring

    A commercially sponsored BBC?

    Now here's a subject I can warm to! I was born with both British and Canadian nationalities and carry both pasports. For my sins(!) I married a French woman and lived for almost 20 years in a small corner of France. For the past 10 years I have spent most of my time in the southern West Indies (St Vincent & the Grenadines) and, for a change of pace, I'm now in Seoul, South Korea.

    I have therefore been subject to television programming from many different parts of the world, but I am most familiar with television productions and culture from the UK, Canada and France as well as what passes for culture and content in the US.

    In spite of all its shortcomings and its recent slide towards the depths of mediocrity (which slide was greased by the same slippery spin doctors who gave you the well known tragi-comedy called "The Blairite Years" - often confused with "the Lost Boys"!), I can say, without ANY doubt in my mind, that the BBC has provided viewers in the UK with BY FAR the best television compared to what viewers must endure in all the above mentionned countries.

    For this, UK residents, you only have to pay a niggardly US$270 (that's Cdn $290, €200 (FF1320!), EC$740!). As an extra bonus, it all comes commercial free - and more importantly, it comes free of the contraints that are imposed on any and all commercial television producers who have to supply the viewer numbers to support the costs! Invariably those numbers are maintained at the cost of quality - not to mention interesting and innovative programming.

    In Canada, in the mid fifties, the CBC was set up based on the BBC model and for many, many years it provided Canadians (and those Americans lucky enough to live within the broadcast range) with nearly equal quality programmes which covered a wide and varied range of subjects and interests.

    At some point the bean counters in Ottawa intervened and it was decided to make the CBC "pay for itself" by introducing advertisements on Canada's national braodcasting service. The result is the relative disaster that is the CBC today - where "bums in seats" is far more important than good programming.

    Much more difficult to assess objectively and definitively is the effect that a "commercial CBC" has had on its journalistic integrity but it's my opinion that it has suffered also. Simply thinking of the old saying about "biting the hand that feeds you" would make one tend towards this conclusion.

    En bref - I would gladly fork over Cdn$500 (that's... but no...!) to have the old CBC back on air as a fully funded national braodcast service. The other commercial television operators in Canada would certainly welcome such a move and their programming would likely improve with the extra cash freed up by the CBC's removal from their ranks.

    To my mind, the best way to do this would be to have the relevant legislation drafted in such a way as to "require" the government of the day to provide "adequate funding" to the CBC with the definition of such "adequare funding" to be determined by a neutral, non government controlled body. The benefits of this, I am sure, will be apparent to most people who, like me, crave decent television once more.

    French television is OK and has some interesting programmes but (surprise!) it is nothing like as good as the Beeb for international coverage in a basically independant way.

    As for American television I'll limit myself to saying that I've long felt that CNN should be brought before a "truth in labeling" tribunal for the misleading advertising apparent in their name!

    "Cable News Network"? "CEN" would be more like it - "Cable Entertainment Network"!

    "Switch over now to see that latest car chase in your neighbourhood"...

    or perhaps:

    "Don't miss the latest sniper shootings - brought to you live and in colour (opps - sorry - color!) by our, greatest in all the world, reporters, stolen for your greater viewing and listening pleasure from - you guessed it - BBC WORLD!!!"

    Networks who specialise in Law and Order (year 12 or whatever - with the occasional new face for variety - but don't dare change the plot!), or other gems such as CSI (place your own town's name here) - well they hardly need and further comments.

    As for new ideas in American television, consider the American shows which were in reality copies of British hits of the past - and present! The list is long and covers several decades. Here are the names of a trio of British shows from the past - can you give the names of the American copies?

    "Til Death do Us Part"

    "Man About the House"

    "Steptoe & Son".

    Sorry about that - I failed to limit myself!

    Soooo... as for the BBC - increase the funding, untie their hands, order them to ignore the expression "Politically Correct" and be thankful they exist!

    Oooo... twas lovely to get all that off me chest!


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