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Thursday, November 5, 1998 Published at 11:11 GMT

UK Politics

BBC 'should consider online ads'

Gerald Kaufman: "The BBC needs to make more cash"

MPs have told the BBC that it should be taking advertising on its Internet services.

Labour MP Gerald Kaufman, the chair of the Commons Media Committee, said the corporation should also consider commercialising its News 24 television channel.

[ image: MPs advocate commercial partnerships for sports coverage]
MPs advocate commercial partnerships for sports coverage
He said: "As the BBC develops its services it would be appropriate for the BBC to consider whether this [News 24] as well as the online service should be a commercial service which actually makes money for the BBC."

He continued: "The BBC has gone beyond being a straight publicly funded corporation a long time ago.

"Now it conducts a series of unashamedly commercial services on satellite and abroad it is no longer a pure and unsullied state corporation."

He added that the corporation "cannot retrieve its virginity" and that "we believe that the BBC should make a lot of money".

His remarks came as the Commons Culture, Media and Select Committee published its reports into the BBC annual accounts.

Mr Kaufman said the only way the BBC can protect its public service ethos would be by becoming stronger financially.

This, paradoxically, would mean embracing further commercialisation, he said.

Estimates lack ambition

He added that the corporation's own estimates that up to 10% of the £2bn raised by the licence fee could be raised through commercial enterprises lacked "ambition".

[ image: News 24 and Online should consider going commercial]
News 24 and Online should consider going commercial
MPs also recommended that the corporation should consider entering into more partnerships with commercial companies for sports broadcasts.

This could see more agreements similar to the one now in place with Sky for Premiership football coverage in which Sky shows every game while the BBC show the highlights on Match of the Day.

This model he said would help the corporation in the "retention and acquisition" of sport rights

This is a model that MPs say could be used in cricket and possibly Wimbledon should the BBC lose that contract in the future in the same way as the corporation recently lost the rights to cover all home Test matches to Channel 4.

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