Are we missing out on BBC International? I certainly think we are missing something. Let me explain. I like many other people are ardent followers of all things travel and follow BBC_Travel on twitter. Looking at the UK version of travel you get this very dull homepage.
See not very much, some local travel news and that is about it. Now reading twitter you’d be forgiven for thinking you are in another world. There are some really interesting twitter posts from @BBC_Travel. Below are just a couple of examples.
— BBC Travel (@BBC_Travel) January 16, 2016
— BBC Travel (@BBC_Travel) January 16, 2016
So at this point i really want to know more so click on the links and find it’s not the same site. It is a international version that you cannot see!
This is really frustrating. I want to know about the unique English – Japanese drinking culture. I initially thought this was a bug in the site, so tried a few more pages and got the same. So i thought I’d ask BBC why we can’t see the site and this is what they replied with.
Thank you for contacting BBC Worldwide.
BBC Worldwide Limited is the main commercial arm and a wholly owned subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) which operates in the UK and over 200 countries around the world. The company is self-funded and exists to exploit the value of the BBC’s assets for the benefit of the licence fee payer and invest in public service programming in return for rights.
We’re sorry but certain bbc.com sites are not accessible from the UK as they are part of our international service which is not funded by the licence fee. As you say, it is run commercially by BBC Worldwide, including the use of advertising, and the profits made from it go back to BBC programme-makers to help fund great new BBC programmes.
Just to let you know that the reverse also applies – users outside the UK cannot access the bbc.co.uk sites as they are funded by the UK licence fee.
I understand the UK site being funded by the tax payer not being available to an international audience. However the website is actually a link to back home when i am away. You can see the BBC News and Sport site from anywhere in the world. However you may see a advert or two. The comments team actually got that bit wrong in their reply.
To not be able to see a BBC commercially funded web site unless you are abroad seems really odd. If I was pitching my site and said i was going to exclude 60 million people as they lived in the UK and therefore were not international i’d be shot down in flames by the investor. Especially when the site is in English!
It is even more crazy when they then put up a page stopping you from seeing the website stating that any commercial revenue is used to fund the wider BBC! Show me the website and i will show you the money!
The only reason why I can see it being a problem is the political issue of the BBC not showing adverts on their site as they are funded by the taxpayer. It might be difficult to explain why one site has adverts when the taxpayer is supposedly footing the bill. This could be easily fixed by the very page that blocks you explaining that this is a commercially funded website and therefore will contain adverts.
So my challenge starts here, I am going to try to get this travel website and the other international sites visible in the UK. Any help welcome. If you can tell me what the unique Japanese-English drinking culture is, then drop me a mail but only if you are not from the UK.
Bit of an update to this since the blog post. I got a further update from the BBC.
Thank you for your comments and for taking the time to write to us.
This is actually something we are actively investigating. Worldwide would love to open this content up to the UK – and we have done that with five of the six verticals so far (Culture, Future, Autos, Capital and Earth). We publish in the UK with a disclaimer on the content so people know its provenance and we also strip it of all the adverts and commercial furniture.
However, opening up in this fashion is sensitive as it would – it is felt – make us party to criticism from commercial publishers who value their own travel sites as a commercial revenue stream. This is one of the main reasons that we have not yet been able to achieve a UK-based site for Travel but we are really trying to get around this so please do bear with us.
All the best,
Managing Editor, Features, BBC.com