Government warned that introducing ads on BBC podcasts will be disastrous

There will be serious consequences for audiences if the BBC puts adverts around audio content in the UK, a coalition has warned.

A group of commercial media and content businesses, including broadcasters, audio producers and publishers have written to the government about the proposals.

In a letter to Lucy Frazer, Secretary of State for the Department for Culture, Media & Sport the 20 signatories, including small businesses as well as some of the UK’s foremost media brands, highlight the disastrous impact of such a change for consumers, licence fee payers and the creative economy.

The BBC’s services are currently funded by £3.8bn in licence fee income. Commercial media businesses – across television, radio, news and podcasting – rely primarily on advertising revenues, which would be eroded significantly if the BBC also sought to generate advertising. This would inevitably reduce the ability of commercial operators to invest in content and services for audiences.

Radiocentre, the industry body for commercial radio, supports calls for Ofcom to conduct an urgent review of the audio and podcast market, before the BBC, which is dominant in UK audio, implements these radical new changes as set out in its Annual Plan in April 2024.

Radiocentre CEO Matt Payton said: “Audiences do not expect advertising around BBC content, which they have already paid for through the licence fee. The BBC receives significant funding from the licence fee and should not be seeking advertising in addition to this.

The unique funding and position of the BBC also means that any change of this nature would have a serious impact on the broader market, as well as an inevitable negative impact on the wider UK creative economy.

Industry opposition is overwhelming and we urge the government to act quickly and engage with Ofcom which has the power to intervene.”

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