Editorial: Time for BBC to rethink relations

The BBC's use of the newly-vacant 9pm slot was in danger of being overshadowed by the enthuisiasm of preceeding announcements of its new 10pm news. And this blatant competitiveness, combined with this week's launch of star, its new fortnightly title targeted at the teen market, have placed the spotlight on the corporation's increasing commercialism.

The BBC's use of the newly-vacant 9pm slot was in danger of being overshadowed by the enthuisiasm of preceeding announcements of its new 10pm news. And this blatant competitiveness, combined with this week's launch of star, its new fortnightly title targeted at the teen market, have placed the spotlight on the corporation's increasing commercialism.

Aside from the PR challenge of persuading the increasingly disillusioned licence-fee payer that it still has the right to demand a fee, the BBC also needs to have a long hard think about how it manages its relationship with PR professionals.

Jeremy Mark, the newly appointed editor of star, appears pretty PR friendly, but now that the BBC is openly giving airtime to its own publishing sidelines through tie-ins with its programmes, surely the time has come for BBC Broadcast to drop its holier than thou attitude with regard to attempts by other organisations to make themselves heard.

The BBC has always been decidedly sniffy about broadcast PR professionals, and particularly the use of VNRs . A few years ago the Beeb went so far as to ban them completely, a position reinforced by former BBC director general Lord Birt's denial that the BBC would ever deign to use 'PR generated coverage' at the Communication Directors Forum earlier this year.

Even in the current crowded media environment, the BBC still retains a reputation as the voice of reason and balanced reporting worldwide. But faced with the plethora of competition, the Beeb is eventually going to have to admit that it can't have its cake and eat it.



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