BBC America: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

By Ben Cohen

The BBC is funded via a television license in the U.K that pays for the majority of its programing. If you want to

own a television set, you must pay £135.50/year to keep it. However, the BBC also

generates revenue by allowing advertising abroad. BBC America runs like all other cable channels in the U.S, with commercial breaks every 15 minutes or so.

I have written about this before, but was again struck by the huge disconnect between what BBC America seems to stands for in its programming, and what it allows as advertising.

The environment is given huge coverage on BBC America (more so than any other new program in the States), with a big segment recently on the International meetings in Bali. The BBC team took the Bush administration to task for its steadfast refusal to commit to a cap on CO2 emissions, and did an interesting piece on how much CO2 people emit proportionally around the world. However, during the segment, commercials for doing business in the country of Qatar (described as ‘The fastest growing economy in world’) , ‘Turkey Air’, and ‘Emirates’ Airline were in every commercial break. Qatar is the world’s leading per capita CO2 emitter, and airplanes are a huge contributor in releasing Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere. 

In my previous post, I made the point that such a huge dichotomy in

values was a major source of our environmental problems. How are we

supposed to stop consuming and polluting if we are consistently coerced

to do so via relentless advertising? With the stakes so alarmingly

high, shouldn’t the most respected name in news live up to the

standards it upholds in it’s programming?

‘The Daily Banter’ is based on a standard advertising model. Good

content generates page views, which is translated into advertising

dollars. We run googleads, Amazon book links and another products we

think our readers will value. We largely do not control what products

google puts on our site (it is done through a program that

intelligently guesses what people will be interested based on the

content of the site), but we are fairly certain nothing particularly

unethical is advertised.

As the site grows and we increase our revenue, we will do more to make

sure that the advertising we display does not interfere with our values

(ie. we won’t be promoting SUVs etc). Of course, it would be preferable

not to have to rely on advertising dollars, but it is a necessary evil

if we want to continue providing our readers with quality content.

If we can ensure a certain level ethical advertising on our site (based

on a very small budget), then surely the behemoth BBC can do the same.

Given its top notch reporting and commitment to covering environmental

issues, why does the BBC insist on advertising products that are

responsible for the ecological atrocities it attempts to uncover? By

only promoting products that do not cause massive environmental damage,

the BBC will give credence to its serious reporting, and most

importantly, remain consistent.

Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.