Business, Economics and Jobs

BBC tells reporters to come up with money-making ideas


BBC Global News Director Peter Horrocks speaks during a press conference in central London, on January 26, 2011.


Ben Stansall

BBC News has turned to its 2,400 employees for money-making ideas, drawing speculations that the major media organization's high editorial standards may be compromised for the sake of commercial success, The Independent reported.

BBC's Global News Director Peter Horrocks sent an e-mail to the staff at World Service, BBC World News channel, and asking them to present strategies for exploring "new commercial opportunities" at their upcoming job appraisals, according to the Independent, which received a leaked copy of the e-mail. 

"I would like each of you to contribute to the delivery of these objectives," Horrocks wrote, the Guardian reported. "Let us know if you have any ideas on how we can strengthen our commercial focus and grow income ... these objectives apply to all parts of Global News: editorial and non-editorial as no matter where you work you can help meet these objectives." 

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The BBC denied that the company was shifting its focus to financial gain, The Daily Mail reported

"It is not true that the BBC's international journalists are being 'ordered to make money,'" a spokesman for the BBC told the Daily Mail. "The job of the BBC's journalists will always remain providing impartial, independent news and there are no specific commercial targets for frontline journalists." 

Media watchdog Ofcom is currently investigating the BBC over the effects of commercial interests on its news documentaries and other editorial programs, according to the Independent. The BBC has broadcast a global apology for its editorial mistakes, and has scaled back its budget by 20 per cent over five years to pay its licensing-fees settlement, the Independent reported.

Those cutbacks, including the loss of 2,000 jobs, have forced the organization to focus more on money-making strategies, according to the Independent.

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Former head of the BBC World Service John Tusa called Horrocks' request "appalling," the Independent reported.

"I can't think of any other head of the World Service who would have used vocabulary like that to tell his broadcasters and journalists what to do," Tusa told the Independent. 

"The notion that as a journalist you are having to think about how you can sell or turn our output into money is just so wide off the mark. If he [Horrocks] pushes it too far he can start to undermine the values of trust on which the BBC World Service news has existed for 80-odd years," said Tusa.