Saturday, April 18, 2009

What a Waste of BBC Money

A couple of weeks ago, when I was in Cardiff, I went to the cinema twice and was rather appoalled that the only adverts shown before the movies all seemed to be on behalf of the BBC. Rob Fenwick has had the same experience today. I can remember one of the ads was for Radio 1 and another one was for the iPlayer. I can't remember what the others were.

Question: How much of our money is the BBC using towaste on fund this massive advertising campaign?
Question: What is its aim?
Question: How is its success to be judged?
Question: Wouldn't this money be better spent on public service programming?

I know a lot of senior people at the BBC read this blog. I'd be delighted if they felt like answering those four questions.


BJ said...

As a (very) junior BBC person, may I intervene?

Q1: No idea
Q2: To make more people watch BBC programmes
Q3: By how many of them watch BBC programmes
Q4: Not if no-one watches it because they don't know about it, no it wouldn't.

Your blog's a consistently good read, Iain (and I had to resist giving you a wave as I walked past you in the newsroom last night) but why can't you see past the end of your nose when it comes to the Beeb? In these days of multichannelism it can't just assume people will sit down and watch or listen to something they know nothing about.

Iain Dale said...

BJ, But 4 adverts in a row. Come on...

Neil James said...

No wonder every second show on BBC is a repeat when they use the licence payers fund on advertising for BBC iplayer and Radio 1 to tell you how great the breakfast show is because there is nothing quite like listening to a 35 year old guy who still thinks its the 90's make jokes that only a 5 year old child would enjoy or understand.

As for the iplayer I think everyone in the country already knows it exists without it being shoved down your throat in newspapers, cinema and the like.

Devote the licence money to making so called original programming and by original programming not another chat show or comedy.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Not just the BBC, Iain.

The Department of Health are spending millions in advertising, and the government is predicted to be the biggest advertiser in the country soon.

Report here.

Simon Gardner said...

What is its aim? To increase market share presumably.

Seems perfectly legitimate to me. If they don’t hold market share, they’re in trouble and that means inter alia advertising.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Sorry for the follow-up. Just looked again at the Marketing magazine I posted and saw the ad at the top of the page ... you guessed it.

BJ said...

I'm guessing that fewer people want to advertise in cinemas in the current economic conditions. So there is the possibility that the Beeb has negotiated some sort of cheap deal with the agents to get more adverts on. When I worked in commercial radio and we were desperate to sell add space, companies (and HM Government) used to get these sort of deals all the time.

I agree it looks profligate

BJ said...

... Also, the BBC also has a considerable (and revenue-raising) film-making arm, so I'm guessing this will give it some clout in the cinema ad market.

Span Ows said...

Presumably it's to make you think twice about going to the cinema as there is SO MUCH on the BBC.

Also, maybe to remind you that the BBC isn't anything to do with, or effected by, the nasty type of person and politician you see "in the loop."

Really, it isn't.


Gallimaufry said...

Why don't the BBC advertise on commercial tv if they want more people to now about their programmes?

Chuffer said...

Anyone listening to commercial radio (as I do endlessly in my tractor) will have spotted that well over half the adverts are now 'dot gov' ones, or on behalf of 'safer road partnerships'. There's an awful lot of money being spent there, too.

Simon Gardner said...

Oh **** and BJ just pointed out the thing I was going to add. Advertising must be dead cheap at the moment.

If it keeps so much self-advertising off the actual channels - so much the better.

Rob Fenwick said...

Thanks for the plug, Iain.

I'm no BBC basher, quite the reverse usually, but one of the ads shown was this one:

This seems a bizarrely high-budget ad for something *ONLY the BBC have the rights to show on TV in the UK* - it's not even as if they have to compete for F1 viewers.

The BBC does so much so well, but it is showing definite signs of an organisation that needs to examine its funding priorities. Fewer cinematic F1 ads, and more investigative journalism please, BBC.

John Smith said...

How do you know it's not a cracking way of bringing in viewers? Impossible to judge from the outside but I think it would work for some things.

The BBC cinema trail I remember was for season four of Doctor Who - the show looked amazing on the big screen and it created a lot of hype.

Jabba the Cat said...

Why is the monetary focus on some mickey mouse adverts? The whole Bee Bee Cee is a complete waste of compulsory tax money.

Those who consider the Bee Bee Cee the be all and end all of broadcasting in this country should be happy to pay for it out of their pockets, whilst the rest of us who are not interested should be allowed to spend our money freely elsewhere.

Lazy Student said...

According to the Daily Mail - who pillory the Beeb at every opportunity, so these figures are likely to be accurate - the BBC spent £22m on trailers, and £41m of advertising. That's about 1.3% of its budget. To me, that sounds very reasonable.

Anonymous said...

The best answer is that the BBC advertise so as to self-perpetuate. Not to serve, but to argue that they are the ultimate provider of televisual communication in the UK, and self-perpetuate that truth, as an organisational imperative.

As such, they are an organisational bureacracy that wish to grow and dominate their market segment.

It doesn't really seem to be the reason for the BBC to exist, but it does seem to instead have a life of its own. To be honest, I don't even know why they pay for the rights to match of the day.

Is there some reason why the BBC needs to compete with ITV for Saturday night ratings?

I actually had come to believe that the BBC's actual remit was to tell the government line about foreign policy and act as a wing of the government (post inquiry that is.)

James said...

Simon Gardner has half a valid point, that it's to increase 'market share' - except at present, there is no market, because the "unique" (and disgusting) way the BBC is coercively funded ensures there can be no market!

The instant they allow us to opt out of their presently mandatory subscription and have a genuine choice between them and the non-state broadcasters, I'll stop finding their use of subscription income questionable, because they will actually have earned it the same way Sky, Setanta and others do. As long as the government allows them to impose a tax on all TV owners, though, it is tax revenue and every penny of expenditure should be justified as such.

Anonymous said...

In what way exactly does the BBC have to 'compete' for viewers? It's the state broadcaster and I have to pay for it, on pain of imprisonment, whether its programmes are popular or not.

Twig said...

I would liken it the advertising on LBC radio by the government. They give the station a revenue boost and when they need a favour...

When the Red Flag scandal broke LBC's presenters poured buckets of cold water on it and said it was a minor side show and they're all at it etc. etc. changing the subject PDQ.

Perhaps the govt are using the BBC as a proxy to distribute some largesse, with favours to be called in sometime in the near future.
Watch this space.

Wrightyboy said...

Advertising by association. Yr headline says the film was "In the Loop". This a spin off from the BBC "In the thick of it". More like sophisticated advertising I would say!

Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs said...

Certainly agree with LBC observation above - Nick Ferrari is normally a right-ish government attack presenter which is quite refreshing in these pro labour, repeater media stations, such as the BBC.

However, when the recession bites, the ad revenue disappears and the goverment use our taxpayers money to keep the commercial station afloat.

However, as can be shown by Nick Ferrari's surprising anti-blog stance and unexpected pro-labour support last week, favours have certainly been requested.

Twig said...

@Beware of Geeks bearing GIFsGuido just posted a Labour draft strategy document, and guess which London radio station is being lined up as one of the platforms for their “new media war”.