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Carrying adverts

Steve Herrmann Steve Herrmann | 17:35 UK time, Monday, 5 November 2007

You may have read recently that the BBC Trust last month approved the launch of, which means international users of the BBC website will start to see advertisements on the site.

As I write this the first of these ads are rolling out – visible to our tech team here via remote desktop connections that show us what the site looks like viewed from various locations outside the UK.

An image of the BBC News website, seen outside the UK

Richard Sambrook, the BBC’s Director of Global News, outlined the reasons for this move here – and, as he explained, these are basically about funding the BBC’s public service journalism for our international online audience.

In editorial terms the journalists will not be involved in any of the dealing with advertisers or with the scheduling of the ads. There’s an "editorial guardian" - paid for by BBC Worldwide, our commercial partners - who will help assess possible ad campaigns and give guidance on what might produce a conflict of interests, clash with our own editorial values or in any way compromise our journalism. If he sees any campaign, or individual ad, as potentially unsuitable then it won’t run. Journalists, guided by him, will have the ability to prevent ads appearing, for example, on sensitive or distressing stories.

I very much hope that those of you who do see the site with ads will understand why we are taking this step and will find that they do not jar with you, or get in the way. We want to get the news to you and we want to make sure we are funded to do that to the best of our ability.

UPDATE, 9 NOVEMBER: Thanks to all of you who have sent in comments and concerns about advertising on the international website. There were a number of common themes which I've answered here.


  • 1.
  • At 05:43 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

"I very much hope that those of you who do see the site with ads will understand why we are taking this step and will find that they do not jar with you, or get in the way. We want to get the news to you and we want to make sure we are funded to do that to the best of our ability."

Much as I understand this move, these words will come back to haunt you, as those running on-line operations in the UK [Rupert Murdoch ? Telegraph ?] will pass these words to their lobbyists and ask Government to stop funding on-line operations via the licence fee.

This is, I'm afraid to say, the thin end of the wedge that will be used to lever open the opposition to the BBC licence fee across all platforms, and I think you will rue the day that you crossed this particular Rubicon..

  • 2.
  • At 05:47 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Norman Abell wrote:

OK as log as you keep the adverts discrete and non-animated. Also No Popups.

  • 3.
  • At 05:53 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • ben wrote:

Could you please give us the option of an online subscription that does not carry adverts? It really is much more pleasant to read without the distraction of adverts down the side.

  • 4.
  • At 06:01 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • jon wrote:

Being an American and thus a non-license-payer, I suppose at some point it was inevitable that costs outside the UK would have to be defrayed. However, the fact that I had to go back to the main news page to see whether the ads were up yet suggests that they are sufficiently unobtrusive. =)

  • 5.
  • At 06:06 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Alan wrote:

There's enough clutter nowadays on the internet without the BBC joining in. But the Beeb uses ads on the TV which are just as annoying. I can't say that I'll be driven to buy watches etc I'll just mooch off to the many other informative internet sites that, don't moderate, allow as much wordage as you fancy. Who don't accept adverts and don't have the level of PC controls that the BBC has to foist on us. Internet sites that tell a very different news story to the BBC and others like em. Sorry but that's how it is. The good news is that I can at least listen to BBC radio without all this nonsense.

  • 6.
  • At 06:11 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Heather Mallick wrote:

It's very kind of you to hope that we international readers aren't "jarred" by the ads. This is characteristic of the BBC's courtesy, just like Alan Johnston being so sweet and good-humoured when he was released and apologizing for his freshly kidnapped look!
In Canada, where the taxpayer-funded CBC is vanishing, we are just grateful to have your website, which is all-encompassing, ever-reliable and beyond price.
I agree with Matthew Norman in The Independent that you are astonishingly unwilling to parade your own virtues. I don't understand why the BBC hasn't gone on strike to protest the recent cuts. Do you even realize how valuable you are and how much your work matters? I have a feeling you need a foreigner to tell you this, because few Brits, especially journalists, ever come to the defence of the Beeb, a great institution.
Fine, I will buy this absurd and ugly slate-coloured Hublot watch you are advertising on the site, as an act of solidarity.

Best wishes,
Heather Mallick
Toronto, Canada

  • 7.
  • At 06:17 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • andy chandler wrote:

I have just seen the adverts for the first time. I couldn't help but notice, they are flashing and moving. Very very distracting. I can understand the need to get advertising revenue for a "normal" news site but the BBC ! I don't like what I see. I hope it is toned down or I shall have to go back to listening to the news and information on radio 4, no adverts there (yet).

  • 8.
  • At 06:22 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

Pity it's not working properly. Here in Toronto, Canada, when I go to, the page first gets a 4 inch white bar at the top of the page, which then disappears, causing the entire page to jump up. Good beta testing, guys.

Sadly this transition process wasn't quite as smooth as you clearly hoped - in fact I almost e-mailed you to query the mysterious white gap which had appeared in the middle of your 'masthead'. And of course it's this gap which has now been filled with adverts!

I am slightly perplexed about the logic behind this move, certainly in relation to - if you removed all the viewers outside the UK it would make literally no difference to the amount of news coverage you'd have on there, the number of journalists you'd have to employ etc etc.

So exactly how does having an international audience add one penny to the cost of running your news site? And if it doesn't add a penny, why the advertising? What's it supposedly paying for?? Sorry I could see straight through this ploy so easily.... but it is a bit transparent!!

  • 10.
  • At 06:29 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Steve C wrote:

I usually view the site in the UK but currently viewing from the US. I have no problem with the adverts but they do seem to be affecting the way the site is displayed. On the News homepage on the right I have an advert from the BBC with 'Find out what has changed...' however clicking on this reveals it isn't a link and doesn't do anything. The advert at the top of the page causes a white space to appear while the site is loading on most pages but then disappears and no advert is displayed (I can see that one is in your post). This is a little annoying when the site load was previously so smooth.

  • 11.
  • At 06:30 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Lawrie wrote:

I don't mind ads on websites but hopefully you're web designers can learn to place them in a way which is not so intrusive. The banner at the top is particularly frustrating since links on the left-hand panel which were previously visible now require users to scroll. On top of that, you have to wait to see if anything will appear - if it doesn't the whole screen lurches updwards.

  • 12.
  • At 06:31 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Tom wrote:

How can an ad not "not get in the way?" No ads visible for me, ever, thanks to Firefox's nifty "no-script" editor add-on.

As an almost daily viewer of the BBC website ( I am in Texas ) I do not have any problem with advertisements on the site. I value the BBC's reporting on worldwide issues and compare it with US based reporting. It means a great deal to me to get another viewpoint on the issues of the day, not just the American view. If that means I have to see a few ads, so be it.

  • 14.
  • At 06:33 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Kevin McKenzie wrote:

I am a British citizen living in the United States. BBC News online is my primary source of news and information--in fact I use the entire online content from the BBC. Here in the US, we are inundated with advertising to a ridiculous degree. I am now quite used to filtering out online advertising, which in my case proves no more effective than advertising on other mediums. The switch to advertising on this site is a case in point: I didn't even notice the ads until I read the story that told me they were there. I am quite willing to pay the "price" of online advertising. Just keep the pop-up ads off your site: carrying those will send me to other news sources.

  • 15.
  • At 06:36 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

can understand the new ad policy to a degree, but please,please no pop-up ad's, which ruin reading pleasure.

  • 16.
  • At 06:36 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Anthony wrote:

Steve - it'd be interesting to see the advertising guidelines you've set in terms of, for instance, levels of animation and number of repetitions allowed etc.

The watch manufacturer advertising today is fairly intrusive (although it could be worse I suppose - it isn't one of those free gift flashers).

Any news on the subscription scheme so I get rid of them completely?

  • 17.
  • At 06:45 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Ken wrote:

That's OK, Firefox Adblock takes care of the ads.

  • 18.
  • At 06:46 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Matthew wrote:

Rather than have people block ads via browser plug-ins, why not give your international readers the option of paying a yearly fee, say $20-50, to have ads removed. That way, you get funding, and we don't have to look at (yet more) ads.

Following that thought, has the BBC considered allowing non-UK folks to pay the television license fee to have access to the streaming BBC TV content? I'd pay in a heartbeat.

  • 19.
  • At 06:50 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Jon Michaud wrote:

I know that moaning about the BBC is a national pastime in the UK.

The BBC website is superb, and I am very grateful for it.

I also realize that it is paid for by UK citizens that pay the license fee. I do not pay the license fee and therefore I am freeloading.

As such, I have no problem with the adverts on the webiste for viewers outside the UK. The BBC website has to be paid for.


  • 20.
  • At 06:51 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Niels wrote:

I have just read Steve's blog entry regarding the advent of ads, and although understanding the reasons, I would say to the rather hopeful appeal that they "do not jar with you, or get in the way" - get real mate.
Of course they get in the way, that's the whole point of them isn't it? Cascading down the side of BBC Business as I write, are lumps of food being thrown by British Airways as a way of enticing me into its new club world class premium thingy. I've appreciated the years during which the world's best news website (IMHO) has managed to keep itself flimmer-free, but always knew that the end would come one day.
I will stay loyal, but let's not kid ourselves that animated ads make no difference to the peaceful study of your rich content. They do.
Niels, Denmark

  • 21.
  • At 06:54 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • John wrote:

I've nothing against this move - but the execution is clumsy. Page download times in the US have increased - downloads seem to hang while an ad unit above the header of the site loads. Currently there is no ad in this slot so the once this call has been made the page snaps back - but the delay is annoying.

I've also just seen an ad in the left hand navigation bar of the site. Given the way that this seems to have been stuck into this slot without any regard for design I am hoping this is an error.

I doubt very much that you would add any other feature to your carefully designed site the careless way that you seem to have chucked the ads in.

Apart from looking bad this can't be good for business - advertisers want to buy impressions which are carefully integrated into site design. Not units are stuck on like vestigial appendages.

I would echo what Norman Abell said, but clearly his comments have not been taken to heart - there's animations everywhere now. Perhaps you should consider using 'blink' tags in your stories as well. I am actually not against the ads (though it would make sense if the license fee were reduced as revenue from ads increases), but quiet ads would be nice - not zipping around and flashing.

  • 23.
  • At 07:03 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • A. Braswell wrote:

Please GET RID OF THE ADVERTS. I have been reading your on-line news so as not to be bothered by foolish, useless, moving babble and pictures.

  • 24.
  • At 07:05 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • David Parkes wrote:

As an overseas user, I'd rather pay a subscription to supress the Ads. I've virtually given up watching Video content because I find the Ad's intrusive and the latest additions to the web site are an unwelcome distraction.

I think a lot of people would be prepared to pay an annual subscription to supress the ads. I'd personally be prepared to pay most of a license fee just to get rid of them. Are there any plans to offer a subscription service?

  • 25.
  • At 07:08 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Sindre K A wrote:

Please, have mercy! Three giant Flash animated ads?? I was expecting something more subtle, like those famous text ads from Google. But this... Ouch! :-(

I greatly regret seeing the advertisements now appearing on the main homepage of the international news version of the BBC. They cheapen the integrity and the look of the site. The lack of advertising was a large factor for me in choosing this page as my homepage. Regretfully, I will look around for another site and will be checking out this one less frequently.

  • 27.
  • At 07:14 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Ryan wrote:

As long as the BBC remains unbiased in comparison to US news sources, I am happy to put up with the ads.

  • 28.
  • At 07:16 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Nick Chalk wrote:

"Don't like ads? Try Firefox with Adblock Plus. Say goodbye to annoying ads and pop-ups!". There how's that for a commercial. I view the BBC site from outside the UK and haven't seen any ads yet, nor will I. Anyway, advertising issue apart, the BBC is becoming too PC these days, but that's another discussion entirely.

  • 29.
  • At 07:19 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Graham Comyn wrote:

As for other users, I'd be prepared to pay a reasonable fee to access a no-ad version of the bbc site from overseas. I'm disappointed that the site had to go this way, but inevtable given the lack of government support. Surely, like the World Service, the bbc site is a way to get (reasonably, though that is slipping too) news across to the whole world and is as such an excellent 'propaganda' tool for the UK and for free speech. If it is full of adverts, there is commercial motivation, and so trust will be lost in countries where non-censored news is hard to come by.

  • 30.
  • At 07:21 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Robert Turner wrote:

I really don't like the dominating effect of the BA advertisement on your main news page today. It dwarfs and cheapens the actual news section. Who wants to be shouted at? It makes me not want to fly with BA ever again, and almost compromises the integrity of BBC news.

Please would you try to limit the size of the ads, and ensure that they are in a subordinate position? Even The New York Times web page allows one to skip the initial ads.

Bob Turner

  • 31.
  • At 07:23 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Michal Szymanowski wrote:

Well I forgot long time ago what ads are on the internet. There is plenty of good software which removing them for a small fee. From enclosed screenshot ads looks annoying. Blinking, animated, annoyances...

Regarding subscriptions.

Subscription YES, but only for content unavailable outside UK. I suggested that many times but it looks like nobody is interested with our money. Strange policy for a company which is interested in increasing profits.

Michal, Poland

  • 32.
  • At 07:23 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Gregory McBride wrote:

The adverts, both on BBC World and now this site are really annoying. I am sick to death of glossy, unreal, hotel, oil company, bank etc. adverts. Can't you just have an advert site where we can go, if we really have nothing better to do?

  • 33.
  • At 07:27 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Mick wrote:

I had to look to find them at first, so that indicates some subtlety at least. Please no popups or "expand outs" or else I for one will be out of here!

  • 34.
  • At 07:32 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Mr.Hublot wrote:

Since your overseas website has commenced to show flashing cake and flashy watch ads, my goldfish has died of an epileptic fit and my eyes have started to bleed... Do you think this might be connected with the fact that I can no longer read the news????

Monsieur Hublot

As an expat now living in the US I have to agree with a lot of these comments.

When I heard this was coming I thought "no popups; make it look clean; try not to have animated bling everywhere"

Right now the implementation looks really poor - with a 30 second delay in rendering the page at times; the top white bar is very obvious.

Also the ads are animated and detract from the rest of the quality content.

I'm disappointed that the testing hasn't been more robust.

  • 36.
  • At 07:41 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Clio wrote:

Graeme sums it up perfectly. And now, BBC has the rest of their viewers begging to pay them! Clever, but count me out.

I tell my students to not trust any information found on any site that uses ads.

So sad to see the BBC finally fall into this category.

Farewell old friend, enjoy selling yourself, but now that advertisers have a say... don't kid yourself about your loyalties.

RIP Ad-free BBC

  • 37.
  • At 07:45 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • D Compton wrote:

Luckily the Ads can be blocked so the new BBC doesn't appear much different from the old one.

However, having seen your Ads, I must comment that they are disgusting. Designed to be as obtrusive as possible.
This now puts the BBC down in muck with Yahoo and many other News Sites. Google seems to be the only one that hasn't descended to these depths.

As another commentor remarked, the BBC should have spent more effort protecting its budget from Murdoch and such.
Shame on you!

  • 38.
  • At 07:45 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Bill Lee wrote:

Whot ad?

All is blocked, and besides, real BBC readers use Lynx browser so graphic ads are an impossibility.

Widen your news, and as the Newnight survey showed, more science, less politics.

  • 39.
  • At 07:46 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Teri Edwards wrote:

There is very little "real" news available in the U.S. (unless you are listening to NPR radio at a time when they have news broadcasts and not music or interview shows). Like many around the world, BBC News online is my primary source of news and information.

I understand why you need online advertising and that today is the first day of it up and running. But it is causing a great deal of problems with the ad header at the top of the page, causing problems as the page tries to load. And flash animation (which is indeed flashing) is rather annoying. Anyway you can get rid of the advert at the top of the page? I can live the sidebar ad, if that is what it takes to get BBC News online.

How about an affordable subscriber service for those of us in the colonies, ;-)if it will get rid of the ads?

  • 40.
  • At 07:52 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Mr Swatch wrote:

Great... Maybe we can win a washing machine on the BBC news website...

Just answer this simple question:

How many time does the average BBC overseas Advert flash in you face per minute? Is it:

A/ 57


c/ A watch & a cake have taken control of my newsreading mind...

Mr Swatch.

  • 41.
  • At 07:57 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Darren Evans wrote:

I live overseas too and agree that a subscription fee to get rid of these ads would be a reasonable way forward.

However, for such a fee, I would expect to have 5 live back on a saturday afternoon. A subscription fee should enable a full service and unlock all limitations.

  • 42.
  • At 08:00 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Kristy wrote:

I understand the rationale...but all the movement in the ads is making it virtually impossible to read the text in the middle (and I now have a splendid headache for trying - especially on the pages with the green ads that move in sync on top and both sides!).

While it may be a necessary business decision, you really ought to get some of your design people working on a much better execution of said necessary evil. Though you have splendid coverage, it's not worth having to pop pain meds every time I read news!

  • 43.
  • At 08:02 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • angela wrote:

I don't understand all of the whining. If you don't want to see the ads, move your page so you can see the one at the top. Tape a piece of paper over the spot. Good grief, be a grownup and realize that services must be paid for in some fashion.

  • 44.
  • At 08:14 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Edmond O'DONNELL wrote:

As an Irishman I have consistently benefitted from free BBC coverage (another freeloader!). Consequently I have an engrained respect for the quality of your journalism and I am now a confirmed addict. Now living in France, I appreciate it even more (French journalists are not exactly objective). I have no problem with your choice to sell advertising, it eases my conscience, but I do agree with many of the posts and a "use of discretion" regarding the intrusiveness of your advertising would be appreciated.

Whatever happens, don't compromise on the quality, independence and objectivity of your journalism...!

Keep up the good work..

Hi, okay fairy enough on the adverts, but for pity sake don't let them be animated... three reasons:

one: Newpapers and magazines seem to do fine without animated adverts.

two: They completely distract from the content of the site, and make it seriously difficult to concentrate on the information, especially for people with impared vision of one sort or another. One might even be able to make a case against animated adverts under the EU accessibility laws. I will look into it.

three: they are incredibly easy to block using freely available software, so you're giving your clients a poor deal. Like 250,000 imprssions of an advert thats says cllick here if you want to view this animation... LoL. Gun, Foot, Shot In, springs to mind.

  • 46.
  • At 08:17 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Kev OCallaghan wrote:

Whilst I can completely understand the financial motives for running on-line ads, I would add my voice to the option of a subscription service for those who prefer the BBC News site 'ad-free'.

With the promise of making the ads un-obtrusive, can I make a suggestion and reduce (or ideally remove) the large banner ad at the top of the page? Content is lost on screen and on some pc's, it feels like half the pages are advertisements - and both the banner and the right side ad are advertising the same product.

Why not replace the top banner with a smaller size or integrate smaller ads at the bottom of news articles or between related links and external links on side bars? (With design in mind, don't slap in an ad-banner without prior thought!)

  • 47.
  • At 08:18 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Nadine Ezard wrote:

For some years I have bookmarked BBC news as my home page, wherever I am based. But now that you have descended into frank advertising I have changed my home page. What else will you be paid to do?

  • 48.
  • At 08:19 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • d compton wrote:

from Angela:
"don't understand all of the whining. If you don't want to see the ads, move your page so you can see the one at the top. Tape a piece of paper over the spot. Good grief, be a grownup and realize that services must be paid for in some fashion."

Wot? Tape?
Use a decent browser and an Ad Blocker.

And then learn to write your own HTML filters when the BBC eventually gets IT sophisticated, which will take another 50 years.

  • 49.
  • At 08:20 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • annabel wrote:

Well I can't see 'em! Maybe NZ got a reprieve for keeping Queenie?!

If they are annoying, I'm off to Al Jazeera English - they cover all important news (so no more Madeleine) and seem to do very balanced reporting, much like the BBC.

Rather than have people block ads via browser plug-ins, why not give your international readers the option of paying a yearly fee, say $20-50, to have ads removed. That way, you get funding, and we don't have to look at (yet more) ads.

Following that thought, has the BBC considered allowing non-UK folks to pay the television license fee to have access to the streaming BBC TV content? I'd pay in a heartbeat.

It is not like me to agree, BUT, this person speaks the truth, If I could get BBC content like a UK resident, I'd pay a licence fee as well, and I am not a rich person. Me thinks that there has been some pretty rubbish market research on this one.... consider that you only see 1% of the people who have an opinion... =8¬)

I notice that the BBC doesn't explain how having advertisers paying prodigious amounts to their 'cause', will affect the already tarnished 'impartial and unbiased' part of their mandate.

But since most people don't think for themselves, as evidenced by most of the posts above, unless the BBC explain it to them, they will fail to make the connection themselves.

Expect more bias, and don't be surprised that it suits the agenda of those who will be advertising.

  • 52.
  • At 08:29 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Sara Parker wrote:

A very sad day for the BBC - as a family of ex-pats we're used to viewing the BBC in a different light to all the North American media we're exposed to.

No more, sadly, no more.

  • 53.
  • At 08:41 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Wilf James wrote:

As someone mentioned, if you don't like go somewhere else.

I will.

The BBC was my first choice because there was no adverts.

  • 54.
  • At 08:46 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Catherine Loydall wrote:

A sad day! Of course they are obtrusive and disturbing - if they weren't an eye-catching distraction the advertisers wouldn't find it paid to display them, would they?

  • 55.
  • At 08:48 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Anthony wrote:

I just read your blog regarding advertisng on the "international sites". What a bunch of bull! It costs the BBC no more to have it's content sent around the world on the internet, than it does to have it available in the UK. This is just purely a cash cow for Aunty Beeb and a poor justification.

Regardless of what you say, it's a retrograde step. Just wait for the day the you publish bad news about the USA, the the US companies pull their adverts. Tell me it won't influence future thinking.

  • 56.
  • At 08:50 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • DJ (Seattle) wrote:

What adverts?

That "tape a piece of paper" bit was laughable. Instead, learn how to use the internet.

  • 57.
  • At 08:53 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • s pepper wrote:

As I view the site in Canada - thankfully only a two year posting-- i can see the adverts- moving, rolling and flashing in all of their glory.
Frankly ,like most who use the site for some independent news coverage, it takes about 5 minutes to zone out the ads!!
No doubt they will get more intrusive as vendors attempt to give their products gravitas leached from the BBC but such is life I am afraid.

I am sad, but understand. I come to the BBC website to get away from advertising. To suggest it is not going to be intrusive would be like telling the client it's not going to have any effect. "You can advertise with us, but no one will take any notice." Actually the only one thing it will have is for me to promise never to purchase the product. If I want to shop I will go to ebay.

I would much rather you introduce an international license for users to get the same as the UK. I wish I could listen to 5 live commentary of the Premiership games. I would willingly fork out for a BBC Radio license. Surely It cannot be that difficult??

After reading about the troubled world we live in, I think I will drop between 5 and 8 grand on a Hublot watch, that should make me feel so much better....thanks BBC.

  • 59.
  • At 09:02 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • John Duncan wrote:

To the internationals who don't understand why the Brits among us don't like the ads - the reason is simple:

We pay over two hundred dollars a year for this service; and there is no opt-out. If you buy a television, you cannot use it without paying the BBC license. Thus the BBC has a lavish budget, and part of the deal is no advertising.

I'm sorry but I consider this decision profoundly immoral and totally illegitimate. As soon as multinational companies are pouring dollars into the BBC's coffers, all sense of editorial independence is diminished.

Not only that: as has been noted by other posters, the 'costs' argument used to justify the ads is ludicrous: the BBC provide all content on the website to British residents in any case. How then can you argue that there are additional costs for the website overseas? If there are additional costs, I would suggest that they are very small in comparison with the amounts you clearly expect to gain from the ads.

Another point to get across to internationals who use the BBC site is that there are many people abroad who are British citizens and have contributed hundreds of dollars to the BBC over the years. Many people pay the BBC their subsription fee but only to watch cable channels such as Sky, TV5 and Setanta and HARDLY EVER WATCH BBC PROGRAMMING. So is there going to be a refund to these people for the costs the BBC DOESN'T INCUR? I think not.

Finally, I noticed that one of the first ads on display was for Delta Airlines. The talk of giving extreme consideration to the kinds of businesses the BBC works with is just that. Given the calamitous state of the environment, and the desperate need to cut emissions globally, can we now expect the BBC to be critical of the government's expansion plans for just about every airport in the UK? Again, I think not.

You are a set of windbags of the highest order.

  • 60.
  • At 09:03 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Thomas Loveridge wrote:

I reluctantly agree in principle that the BBC must alteratively fund operations that benefit the non-licence fee paying international community, but ads simply drive me crazy. Hence I've installed the AdBlocker extension to my Firefox browser...

  • 61.
  • At 09:19 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Freedom Fields wrote:

The ads stuck out like a sore thumb, I'm afraid, so shocking was it to see tawdry commercialism sullying your previously pristine pages.

I suppose I shouldn't be so surprised, and I dare say that I'll get used to them. But I suspect Bedd Gelert is correct in saying that you will find it hard to prevent this precedent from eroding your case for preserving the licence fee. A rod for your own backs, perhaps? I'll watch the results with interest, ads or no ads...

  • 62.
  • At 09:26 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • John Rowland wrote:

I would pay to remove these adds. They are horrible and you just lost a lot of respect from me. This is violence to my eyes. Horrible Horrible Horrible.

  • 63.
  • At 09:33 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Rachel Engler wrote:

Many of us abroad read your site precisely
because you hadn't any annoying ads. Have you done any research on whether those of us abroad would pay a license fee? I would. Advertisers, like politicians, always want to censor news, but the latter can always be kicked out at election time. No such luck with the former. That said, I use linux and can easily block most ads.

Rachel Engler
San Diego, CA
Warwickshire, UK

  • 64.
  • At 09:46 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Terry wrote:

I like the idea of finding a way to let expats, business travelers and others access BBC content at the same level as the UK audience for a modest fee.

For example, not being able to listen to audio streams of BBC local radio sports broadcasts from abroad is just silliness - mostly on the part of the Football League - because there are no alternative feeds to justify those blackouts.

However, the fee should be less than a TV license, because most users will only view it occasionally, not as their main broadcast service.

As for the ads, I got fed up with years ago and blocked them at the firewall.

  • 65.
  • At 09:55 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Vivek wrote:

Agree - can you please look into launching a subscription service which allows us to do away with the ads?

-UK Expat, resident in Belgium

  • 66.
  • At 09:58 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • mark bradford wrote:

Dear Editor - the animated ads are a complete disaster - I am sorry, but it is impossible to concentrate on the text - if they do have to here PLEASE CAN THEY NOT BE ANIMATED AND NO POP-UPS.

  • 67.
  • At 10:01 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Dr Peter Kirby wrote:

The BBC just lost its identity. Adverts? - welcome to CNN and the rest of the news crap.

  • 68.
  • At 10:01 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Matthew Bristow wrote:

I understand and accept that advirtisments will be viewed outside the UK. Please do not have them animated. It detracts from the quality of what is on the page. I have never taken heed of any andvirtisments on line. I already have a watch !

  • 69.
  • At 10:02 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Alan Thomas wrote:

If the BBC has a public service mission then providing an internationally well regarded free news service that enhances the reputation of both the provider and the UK was it. If you cannot make a political case for this then which part of the license fee can you make a case for? The disaster for the BBC domestically has been going and playing the commercial channels at their own game, and losing. Now you cannot even make the case for the one thing you do that enhances the reputation of the UK internationally. I think this is really losing the plot.

  • 70.
  • At 10:35 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Joe wrote:

So you too bow to the almighty gods of advertising.

Oh well, adblock will deal with your types, and I STILL don't have to see the rubbish the marketing people think I want to see.

  • 71.
  • At 10:41 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Lars wrote:

I understand the rationale behind ads on the site, but the current implementation is unsubtle.

It's very obvious that the BBC News website design was never ment to house banners and to be honest, they destroy a perfectly fine lay out.

The banners are simply too large for this amount of content: it breaks the mold.

One solution is to serve foreign IP's a *truly* redesigned website, more accomodating to these (I must say * encredibly large *) banners.

  • 72.
  • At 10:49 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Samantha Browne wrote:

Being a BBC tax payer until i moved to America, i am dismayed that the BBC has dropped to advertising lows! Please just do not turn into a site where you have to fight your way through the adverts to find the news, as is such the way on our American news websites. Although i do have to ask, is the BBC not recieving enough cash from the British public to keep these things impartial and away from adverts? I'm sure that the TV license hasn't got any cheaper from when i left our green shores!

  • 73.
  • At 10:54 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • nic wrote:

The BBC's been a good friend over the years I've lived outside the UK, and high quality public servive journalism remains one of the positive most symbols for the UK overseas.

I can't help thinking as I wake up (in Tokyo) and read this news that we are all diminished by it.

Its always hard to watch an old friend betray themselves.

  • 74.
  • At 10:59 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • John Davis wrote:

Naughty, naughty. MY BBC with advertisements? It's a bit of a shock, mates. If they're not intrusive, all right, but we might appreciate the opportunity to subscribe or donate something to the licence fee. Please think about this.

I can't get through the day without the BBC in some form or other. There's nothing like it here in the U.S., where we're adverted to death. Please don't sell us out to the marketplace. You are unique. Priceless.

  • 75.
  • At 11:03 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Hilary tann wrote:

Please reverse this course. I cannot concentrate on news with pop-ups and bright graphics. I *think* about what I'm reading. These graphics will send me - and others like me - away.

  • 76.
  • At 11:12 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • aaron wrote:

The need for advertising is understandable, if unfortunate. I'd say do what you need to, no apologies needed.

I also wish you luck, since people who don't like advertising can block most of it with as little as two clicks on most browsers. I just removed all your advertising in under two seconds.

  • 77.
  • At 11:15 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Simon Robinson wrote:

I'm very sad to see this. I grew up with the BBC and have always been so very proud of it. I think the introduction of Advertising seriously erodes the values that the one and only BBC stands for: independence, impartiality, truth, superb quality. This is a world asset as well as being representative of the best traditions of British journalism. Those in management who have taken the decision to corrupt BBC values need to revue this move and re-adopt a more responsible, traditional and custodian approach to their planning. Please do not wreck the BBC by going down this road - there may be no way back.
For now, I'm changing my home page and keeping my fingers crossed that those public servants who sit on the board of the Trust (who are mandated to uphold all that is great about the BBC) wake up and take their jobs more seriously.
Simon Robinson

  • 78.
  • At 11:19 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Bruce wrote:

So why clutter up a nice page with flashy animated horrible browser-crashing rubbish. Why not go with one of the providers of subtle text-based advertisements?

  • 79.
  • At 11:20 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • James wrote:

The ads are dreadful!

This is such a shame. I just hate it.

Childish, i know.

Give it time I suppose.

  • 80.
  • At 11:23 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Stepheng wrote:

These ads are terrible. Here in the USA we are inundated by ads everywhere and now the good old Beeb has decided to become just like everyone else. Hail progress and greed. At least you could insist they are non moving blinking or flashing so one can actually read the news.

  • 81.
  • At 11:27 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Tim H wrote:

I think the man who made this decision has made a grave error of judgement incompatible with the feelings of the majority of the very audiance he is trying to please.

This is exactly what I DON'T want from the BBC.

Please stop the advertisements immediately.

If it is a choice between a BBC with advertisements or looking elsewhere - I will look elsewhere.

  • 82.
  • At 11:31 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Ralph Neelands (Toronto) wrote:

It must cost next to nothing to send this site's content internationally. It's already being paid for by the licence fee payers in the UK. So this is just a cash grab.

And what of those noble souls in this forum who are offering to pay for a service that is already paid for? Well, they're being played for suckers by the Beeb.

The BBC has just lost a HUGE amount of its built-up capital of integrity and credibility. Excuse me while I change my home page. This one's a blinking disgrace.

  • 83.
  • At 11:40 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Tom Kennedy wrote:

Now that those of us outside the UK are paying our way, any chance of making some of the UK-only content available to us, such as live radio coverage of football matches?

Thanks to the BBC I learned about 'adblock' for FireFox. Once again the BBC made my internet experience more enjoyable (but probably not in the way they intended).

  • 85.
  • At 11:58 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • JK wrote:

Oh My God. Are you seriously going to do this to us? I don't want to start imagining BBC with those crazy internet pop ups!

So, where do you want us to turn I am covering my face in disappointment.

Namanga, Kenya

the ads are showing up and they are a distinct distraction. The animation is very irritating and cheapens the whole concept of the BBC as an independent news source.

While you may not recognize it now, in the long term advertisers will in the end cause bias in your reporting just as it does in the states. The problem of course is that you will learn this too late and by then you will be used to the extra income and won't be able to step back.

  • 87.
  • At 12:03 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

The arrogance of The BBC knows no bounds. It believes it has a God given right to do anything, and now that includes taking advertising. The people who run the BBC truly believe they are operating in a competitive marketplace. But does no one at the BBC actually realise that they are the antithesis, indeed the destroyer, of competition and risk taking? Protected by the compulsory Poll Tax, euphemistically called the License Fee, the BBC answers to no one other than a compliant scared government, and can stomp all over other media companies who are dependent on the service they give their customers to finance themselves.
I am bitterly opposed to the BBC taking advertising, indeed pursuing any "for profit" activity, not for the bleating "public service" reasons cited by many correspondents here, but because every advertising £ the BBC takes into its maw, means a £ lost to a competitive private company that needs advertising revenue for its very survival.

  • 88.
  • At 12:04 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Mary wrote:

I didn't think I'd mind ads on the web site, but the animated ads currently showing (including the BBC's own) really annoy me. OK to ads but not when they're animated. I'm trying to focus on serious news here!

  • 89.
  • At 12:06 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Brian wrote:

Well, if you must have advertising, may I suggest you offer to carry ads for the Adbusters Media Foundation in addition to the various corporate awfullness associated with advertising? At least that way there might be some balance.
I'm thinking a nice colourful side banner for 'Buy Nothing Day' (24 November, in case you are wondering) as opposed to something telling me about how great a new watch/car/perfume is.
They are always fighting to get their ads seen. This would be a good way to mitigate the loss of 'public mental space'

  • 90.
  • At 12:40 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Gunnar Carlson wrote:

People come to the BBC News websites to read world-class text, not distracting animations. I wouldn't object to Google-style text ads or still photographs with text.

Jittering Flash content is ruining the internet, and makes it difficult for those of us who have vision problems. I'd be happy to send in 50 kronor not to be subjected to animated nonsense.

Fortunately, the Opera browser allows me to stop animations and plug-ins.

Most advertising is aimed at morons, not BBC readers.

  • 91.
  • At 01:30 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Anthony wrote:

First the BBC started chasing ratings, now it has accepted advertising. I was a supporter of the license fee, but you've destroyed the best justifcations for it. Good luck competing with News Corp, you are going to need it...

  • 92.
  • At 02:14 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Jose Luis Rodriguez wrote:

I discovered the BBC in its own dimension when I went to the UK to do my MSc. Soon, I got impressed and attracted by its web concise content and neat presentation with no ads, one of its kind. I even asked and pay for the BBC news cable channel here in Mexico. Since 2002 I log on every time I connect to the web and contribute with comments whenever I can.

In my humble opinion this decision puts the BBC news site at the same level of distraction compared against others and leave me as a second class reader.

  • 93.
  • At 02:21 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Jon Clamp wrote:

Thanks for the advice on adblock, just downloaded it, works like a charm.

  • 94.
  • At 02:27 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

Surely its possible to access the advert free version of the website using the UK domain name?

  • 95.
  • At 02:45 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Colin Almond wrote:

So long as we don't get those ads that pop up right across what you're trying to read!!!

Is it co-incidence that pages are taking about twice as long to load now than they used to?

BBC news is the 'best in class', pls don't spoil it......

Auckland NZ

  • 96.
  • At 03:30 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Duane Sherwood wrote:

In the US it is very difficult to find news outlets that have not been "corporatized." I would prefer to pay a small subscription fee just to ensure your service remains unbiased. If it ever happens that you "adjust" a story to avoid offending a revenue source, you will have defeated your own purpose.

  • 97.
  • At 05:13 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Alex wrote:

One of the many reasons I always enjoyed reading the BBC online was the lack of advertisements. It's unfortunate that that reason is gone, and also unfortunate that the adverts are flashy, animated, distracting, and slowing down my use of the website. I've lost so much respect for the BBC.

  • 98.
  • At 05:27 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Anthony Cowlam wrote:

As a Brit living in New York I really despair at the commercialization of the BBC News web site.

I can block these ads on my PC but I constantly check the web site from my phone which does not have that option and is now having to cope with this capitalist graffiti.

Can I just pay the license fee from the U.S. and get back to impartial journalism? This is very very worrying.

  • 99.
  • At 05:56 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • anonymous artist wrote:

why don't adverts look like this?:

If real internet artists would get involved, I would love it, instead of hating it.

  • 100.
  • At 07:45 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Helen wrote:

Thanks BBC!
I for one will now be sure to never fly BA and never buy a Hublot watch. These ads are hateful! I agree with a number of other posts that I would gladly pay a reduced licence fee if it would get rid of the ads, and allow access to UK only content. Why couldn't you do your market research amongst those that you are actually affecting, ie users outside the UK?

Good grief. You are now 'BBC-Airbus'.

""I very much hope...that they do not jar with you, or get in the way".

There are FOUR on your front page! One would have been sufficient to 'jar', but four seems completely excessive.

James, Bratislava

  • 102.
  • At 08:53 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Anna wrote:

As an international user, I don't mind seeing some ads if it means I can continue to avail of the BBC Website.
Everything has a price, and I think a few ads on your pages is a small price for a great and comprehensive news service.
Thank you!

  • 103.
  • At 09:31 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • andrew wrote:

The flashing and size is totally distracting, and I can only block it at home.

I can't put my finger on why, but they are much more distracting than the ads on e.g. the economist and the guardian.

  • 104.
  • At 09:33 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Gillian Buzzard wrote:

Hi there, I'm a brit based over in NZ. I understand the reasoning behind the move to allow advertising on the .com site, and, whilst I don't really have a problem with banner ads around stories or the home page, I really do take issue with commercials popping up when I try and access video links via the site. The difference here is choice. I can choose to ignore the static banner ads which don't distract from the article I am interested in. However, being denied direct access to video links and being forced to sit through ad footage is completely unacceptable and, as a PR/marketing professional I would argue, utterly ineffective in terms of engaging the target market from the point of view of the advertiser.

  • 105.
  • At 09:36 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • N. Nell wrote:

DREADFUL! DREADFUL! DREADFUL! For all the reasons already mentioned. PLEASE TAKE THEM AWAY! Where can I find sanity in the digital world now?
I, too, would be happier paying an annual fee to be advert-free.

  • 106.
  • At 09:41 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Kode wrote:

I nearly got a headache from trying to read a news article on BBC last night, when I saw the ads for the first time. I mostly read your news through RSS feed and well, from now on I'll probably read them only through RSS, since the flash-ads you're using are just way too big and distracting to be able to concentrate on the news story. Quite frankly they just look horrible. It's like a slap in the face.

I surely understand the cost being the reason to punish the foreign readers, and of course you do as you please. And so do I and will from now on try to stay away from your site. Which is a bit of a shame since you were one of the few foreign news sites I read daily. I'll probably still read your RSS-feeds at times but I'm already looking for an alternative for your html-site. Arrivederci BBC.

kode, finland

  • 107.
  • At 10:33 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Dan Holmes wrote:

Those of us in the UK who access your services via servers located abroad do in fact see these adverts. In my view you are now no better than any other website, having been hitherto a paragon of presentation and commerce-free information. You've lost it as far as I'm concerned.

  • 108.
  • At 10:43 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Frits wrote:

Fortunately I have great Internet Security software (Kaspersky) with anti-advertising option. The spaces with the adds stay white for a second and than the page moves to its original position. Someone else told me about the adds, I never saw them! :-) So if you're disappointed by the BBC, get some software and surf a clean web with no pop-ups, adds, phishing or other nonsense.

  • 109.
  • At 10:55 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Michael L F Ripley wrote:

The adverts are annoying there is no denying it but if that is the price to view the site abroad so be it. However does this mean we can now have access to previously denied content? ie I tried to watch news of the GB v New Zealand Rugby League match and that was denied??.I view the BBC site in France and am a licence payer in the UK so its now particularly galling that Brits abroad are still denied some content.

  • 110.
  • At 11:15 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Brendan wrote:

Well, I must say that is a stroke of mastery. Through the method of putting adverts on your site (and they are pretty distracting, I have to agree with all said above) you have gone from a site offering free, high-quality news to one which people are offering to pay for. The furore of announcing a fee for all non-UK readers would probably be much louder than what has been expressed here, so congratulations on side-stepping that controversy and possibly still setting the scene for what you actually want.

Brendan, Dublin.

  • 111.
  • At 11:48 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Ade b wrote:

The bandwidth required to make BBC news an internaional site does cost money.

The people on here agrguing that it costs no more to let everyone in the world see the BBC website as opposed to just brits are simply wrong.

And given that there is a cost involved, it has to be covered.

As a license fee payer i'd rather the cost subsidised by adverts for non license fee payers then cuts in the amount of service that everyone can get.

  • 112.
  • At 11:58 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Mike, France wrote:

I have nothing against advertisements being served to international or, indeed, domestic users (other state-funded broadcasters supplement their government-supplied revenues with advertising money, after all).

What I object to are irrelevant, annoyingly-designed, poorly-implemented advertisements such as those being carried on the BBC News website's front page. Two conflicting animations (both clumsily-designed), in two inappropriate regions of the page, with no context-specific value whatsoever. As for the four (4!) Airbus ads on the BBC front page - they just beggar belief.

Whoever decided that the BBC should carry ads should be lauded; whoever was responsible for implementing that decision should be shot.

"I very much hope...that they do not jar with you, or get in the way."

They do, and they do. But not because they're advertisements; because they're - in the context, and as implemented - bad advertisements.

If you're going to carry advertisements, make them relevant to the content you're serving so they have some value to your site's users (these have none). While the BBC may have little experience in advertising, it could surely hire in a consultant that could explain the basics - because it's the basics that the BBC is singularly failing to deliver.

  • 113.
  • At 12:06 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Barnaby Irish wrote:

I can understand the need for advertising in terms of costs, but do they have to be so 'jarring' and animated?

The BBC website is renowned for it's design and useability - and these ads are very distracting, intrusive and ugly. It suddenly looks very cheap, as if the priority is now ad revenue and not a world-class news service.

Can you not at least give guidelines to advertisers, or just have static or textual adverts (such as Google's adwords) which can be styled to fit within the page design?

  • 114.
  • At 12:18 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Clive Pottering wrote:

Terrible. Utterly. I don't care what the excuses are. Want to save money? How about three episodes less of Eastenders or axing some of the other drivel the BBC calls television. BBC Online was one of the last few good things about this institution. But you've gone the way of "selling" Swiss Watches and business class travel to the very people who couldn't possible afford either of these luxuries. Another blow for civilization.

  • 115.
  • At 12:24 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Stuart Leckie wrote:

I use and there are ad's on that !! I thought it was just for international sites ? I think it's a sad day when the bbc is effectivley forced to raise funds from adverts. I will have to find another form of receiving news with all the animated ad's and pop-up's ! Sad day indeed !

  • 116.
  • At 12:45 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • ZK in Singapore wrote:

I can understand the need for ads, but your claim that you hope they don't get in the way... I can see why you'd put the ads on the right, but in the nav bar on the left between "Video and Audio" and "Have Your Say" is particularly annoying and distracting, with the need to scroll further down to click on the links we're used to seeing higher up.

  • 117.
  • At 12:48 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Brett D wrote:

Please stop the ads. The Ads completely degrade the site. They are very very annoying. I pay the licence fee but also live abroad most of the time. Is there a way to avoid them without removing a lot of the funcionality of ie or Firefox?

If enough people complain, will anybody listen?, or do we have to vote with our feet?

  • 118.
  • At 01:00 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Derek wrote:

It was said that the adverts will be unobtrusive. That's a laugh. The adverts dominate the screen and the animation is to distracting. A boycott of the site until these garish adverts are redesigned is required.

Ade B makes an interesting point, and for us 'non-techies', perhaps someone out there with some professional knowledge can make an educated guess as to how much this extra bandwidth costs the BBC. I have to be honest, I doubt it costs the tens (hundreds?) of thousands of pounds that the front page advertising is now raking in.

The BBC is being fundamentally dishonest here, by not explaining clearly what - if any - the true extra costs are. None of us outside the UK thinks it's right for UK licence-payers to subsidise us, but we need to hear the true case for advertising set out by the BBC, not the mealy-mouthed lies and evasions we've had so far.

  • 120.
  • At 01:08 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Dudleyc wrote:

The ads completely dominate the page and totally distract from the content. They look simply 'stuck on' - as if a graphic designer wasn't involved in the process.

Navigating between the homepage (which has ads) and individual stories (which don't) is very confusing as the content starts much further down when there is an ad at the top.

I agree with other commenters that it would be much more satisfactory to pay an online subscription to see the pages without any ads.

I am also concerned about the content of the ads chosen. Today, for example, all the ads are either for Airbus, or for British Airways. In other words the BBC has associated itself with the promotion of the most polluting form of transport on the planet.

As well as polluting the planet, it is sad to see the airlines now polluting the perception of the BBC's editorial indpendence around the world. It's a sad day.

  • 121.
  • At 01:09 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Tom wrote:

Well I agree wih Brendan - I prefer to still get access to site but with ads.

To all those people who are changing their home page from the BBC site to another one - I've got a question for you? Which other quality news site is available without ads?

  • 122.
  • At 01:23 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Janet B wrote:

How very disappointing this move is! The BBC website is the favourite of so many lunch-break surfers who can rely on getting up to date news without the constant infernal pestering to "buy this" or "fly that"! As I logged on today I was greeted with an aeroplane flying around a large banner, which is simply too distracting, and seemingly inappropriate when trying to read serious and sensitive news articles.

Surely there must be better ways for the Beeb to secure income, without "dumbing down" the best website on the net?

  • 123.
  • At 01:29 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • David wrote:

Well the ads are a litle disconcerting and mildly annoying but given the excellent quality of you website, well worth it.

It's about the Beeb became a litle more commercial, what about putting discreet links to the BBC shop ? One has to be very persistent to find where one can buy DVDs etc.

  • 124.
  • At 01:55 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • brit in dc wrote:

This is a serious mistake

The bbc is the most cost effective form of overseas diplomacy that the UK has is the new world-service and has the opportunity to be even more effective and efficient due to the scaling and pervasiveness of the internet

As a Brit working in the US for a UK company paying UK taxes, I see every day that US news, apart from a few bright spots such as the washington post, is in complete free-fall - with CNN et al following Fox News into an abyss of trivia and bias.

Decision makers and the outward looking elements of the US public rely on the BBC for unbiased news and content.

You can't buy this kind of audience.

UK Gov needs to seriously revisit this decision - the FCO paying for the bandwidth is a lot cheaper than ending up in questionable wars because our allies have poor access to real news and insight.

Adverts on the BBC are killing the brand. "The Goose That Laid Golden Eggs" springs to mind.

  • 126.
  • At 02:30 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Steve Renshaw wrote:

It's absolutely right that international users should contribute in some way.

All these people are sat here jumping up and down demanding to know why they can't have BBC without the adverts, yet they don't stop to think that it's people in the UK who pay the license fee every year so that Johnny Foreigner can have access to the best news coverage in the world.

If you don't like it, go to the CNN website instead.

  • 127.
  • At 04:25 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Anthony wrote:

Ade (#111),

I understand the world service is subsidised by the Foreign Office as the provision of its programming is seen as a public good, reflecting well on the UK throughout the world.

I've always seen the BBC News website as an extenstion of this. And, frankly, there is a good argument that the website is now the 'flagship' BBC news product consumed around the globe.

It's a bit sad that its image has been compromised by intrusive ads, particularly if Brendan (#110) is right about an element of duplicity being involved.

That said, I would pay a subscription for BBC content and Terry (#64) makes a good point that the online commercialisation of BBC content has fallen way behind demand for international users. It's particularly annoying when the content - i.e. sports - are not available from an alternative provider in other countries.

By the way, thanks for the tip about adding to the firewall - marvellous!

This is all terribly depressing. I always considered the BBC to be one of the best "ambassadors" the UK ever had, much more than a mere service provider for an international web market. The BBC's News web site was a unique haven of sobriety, clarity and sensitivity in an ever louder web environment. Like the World Service, I saw it as Britain's generous gift to the world.
This gift has been taken away from all of us who happen to have the misfortune of living outside Britain. From now on, we have to pay for your services, by putting up with visually screaming adverts. Can you really not see how much damage these ads are doing, even if "only" to the visual perception of your site? Soon, you'll just be another CNN, competing in a big but not very beautiful market; and, who knows, maybe in the not too distant future your site will have blended so much into this market that hardly anybody will remember what the letters BBC actually once stood for. Yes please, give us poor second-rate "customers" a chance to pay for the privilege of experiencing your site disturbance free! After all, you wouldn't want us all to flock to Britain and upset your already endangered social balance, just to avoid those nasty ads. But than, maybe that's why BA is advertising its Club Class on your site?! Very smart indeed . . .

  • 129.
  • At 05:08 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

I live and work in the UK but for some reason I still see the adverts. So in effect, I am paying twice, once with my licence fee and again through seeing adverts.

The BBC should either be 100% license-fee based or 100% commercial. Hopefully these adverts will finally force a debate on the future funding of this institution.

  • 130.
  • At 05:15 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Ron wrote:

I agree with many of the comments that it would be better to ask people overseas to pay a subscription rather than have adverts. With adverts the BBC becomes much like the rest of the bunch and you will surely soon start down the slippery slope. I read your news every day since I retired here in France and I do not like having these adverts (junk e-mails!) arriving unwanted.

  • 131.
  • At 05:22 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Sindre K A wrote:

I must admit that I've blocked banners for the first time ever. I am prepared to tolereate some kind of ads on the BBC News website, but these animated banners have unfortunately gone way overboard. I hope you figure out something more user-friendly soon, I feel kind of bad by having to block your ads..!

  • 132.
  • At 05:31 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Laura wrote:

The animated ads are very distracting and make reading the site unpleasant. Couldn't you just have non-animated ads?

  • 133.
  • At 06:13 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Rich wrote:

I'm in the UK and at work i have the ads on the webiste and a nifty one on the bbc sport website asking if you've noticed anything difference

  • 134.
  • At 07:22 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Alexandra wrote:

I have had the BBC World Website set to my homepage for the last 6 years (of which the first 2 were spent living in the UK and paying for a tv licence.

IMO, the ads are far far worse than what I had expected. They overpower any actual news, take up far too much of my screen, and with their constantly moving and changing text, are definitely jarring and distracting. The whole site looks cheap and tacky now. I am about to change my homepage settings to the Guardian or Al-Jazeera English websites - at least their ads are a bit more subtle.

  • 135.
  • At 10:05 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Sam Barrett wrote:


Finally the fall out from the row with the government during the Iraq war has hit. Tony Blair got his way in the end.

The BBC news has never been truly impartial, it can't be, but this ultimately will narrow the news boundries of debate. Look at the width of the subjects covered on any U.S style news channel. I don't know about you but I find it quite frightening. These channels concerned, cannot transmit news critical of the business community.

Goodbye the BBC as we knew it.

Sam Barrett

  • 136.
  • At 10:06 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Souza, B. J. wrote:

Bye,Bye ! BBC News.

  • 137.
  • At 06:43 AM on 07 Nov 2007,
  • Doug wrote:

Saw these adds & wondered what was happening, thankfully with Adblock/Firefox I can remove them.

  • 138.
  • At 07:34 AM on 07 Nov 2007,
  • Javier Sepulveda wrote:

Now that you are selling advertising, your goals of increasing page impressions and extending reach become euphemisms for increasing sales. You are thus already far on the path away from a public service whose goal it is to educate and inform. It seems to me a profound error of judgment see this move to be compatible with the BBCs mandate.

  • 139.
  • At 07:50 AM on 07 Nov 2007,
  • AfM from PDX, USA wrote:

I'm so disappointed with BBC. Flashy boring annoying ads next to the world headlines?? And they are HUGE and overwhelming. This is so sad. I am really sad by this move from the BBC. I really hope they change this.

  • 140.
  • At 08:45 AM on 07 Nov 2007,
  • Badee wrote:

I hope that there will be no pop-ups.

  • 141.
  • At 08:51 AM on 07 Nov 2007,
  • Martin Clarke wrote:

Dear BBC - just wanted to add my point of view to this discussion. I too regret that the BBC felt it necessary to loose its ' ad virginity' in order to generate revenue. Like many of your other readers, I would be happy to pay for your service a fee of say 12 £ a year (but then please give us Radio 5 live too). Otherwise, keep up the good work - your site is our number one point of news reference. Martin

  • 142.
  • At 10:20 AM on 07 Nov 2007,
  • Jonathan Howard wrote:

I travel extensively from the UK on a weekly basis. I honestly don't see what the big hoopla is about the BBC carrying ads for its international users. The vast majority outside the UK seems to have taken the move in their stride. Its only us English that have the incessant habit of whining on about it.

The fact remains that the great BBC service is intended for UK users and anyone outside the UK should contribute. The BBC needs to consider other methods of funding as the license fee isn't going to be there forever. The stale arguments over commercialism infecting editorial independence are laughable, do we honestly think that BBC journalists lack a backbone? The FT, Economist, News week, etc, have been receiving advertising for yonks and no one would publicly be critical of their journalists or editorial policy.

  • 143.
  • At 12:00 PM on 07 Nov 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

Horrible, irritating adverts. It really spoils the website.

BBC News is no longer a calm refuge.

For those on IE and not Firewall savvy you can easily block the adverts by going to your IE menus and choosing:

Tools -> Internet options

then click the 'Security' tab...

and select the 'Restricted sites' icon ( far right / red color)

and then click the 'Sites' button (just below)...

Type in: *

and then click 'add'

Now you get serene whitespace instead of flash adverts!

  • 144.
  • At 02:37 PM on 07 Nov 2007,
  • Dave Syrett wrote:

The Ads have killed my system today... I have had to change my home page so that I can get any Internet Access at all.
I have ADSL, so I dread to think whats happening on slower lines.
I agree with Ads, but the number & complexity that you are putting on a single page is ridiculious.
You will be loosing visitors fast like this.

  • 145.
  • At 02:53 PM on 07 Nov 2007,
  • Neil Harrington wrote:

Faithful BBC news watcher here. I could live with ads, but these are awful. The 'movement' is totally distracting. Please please stop the movement!

  • 146.
  • At 04:17 PM on 07 Nov 2007,
  • John P. Eaton wrote:

Adverts are now a way of life at BBC. While they scaecely enhance the site, they blend in well and are far less intrusive than I first imagined they would bve.
Readers tend to realize that rising costs are also a way of life. It appears that such costs must be offset by either cutting back on service or by providing a source of additional funding.
BBC has chosen well.
Good work, so far.

  • 147.
  • At 11:57 PM on 07 Nov 2007,
  • David Tee wrote:

Well done - you've just taken the Kings shilling...

And yes, they do jar and they are in the way.

A sad day.

  • 148.
  • At 06:57 AM on 08 Nov 2007,
  • DJ (Seattle) wrote:

The adverts are paid for whether you see them or not.

I am willing to bet a handsome sum that over 80% of those complaining use Internet Explorer.

Hint, hint...

  • 149.
  • At 09:07 AM on 08 Nov 2007,
  • Richard Toohey wrote:

Adverts ... OK, I can see why.

But three of them, all moving at the same time - horrible.

And the pages are loading a lot slower because of it (half the old speed? Feels like it.)

I'm not going to buy that watch or an Airbus.

The BBC site has always been a benchmark of a good, easy-on-eye site without a lot of distractions. Find what you need quickly.

But ... if I pay 0 pence for it, what can I say? Other than I am unlikely to stop by so often.

  • 150.
  • At 11:13 AM on 08 Nov 2007,
  • Sadie wrote:

So the BBC objects to international readers accessing their website content for free? Well you seem quite happy to use letters and photos submitted by international readers on your website. Will you be paying us for these in future?

  • 151.
  • At 01:03 PM on 08 Nov 2007,
  • CH wrote:

The ads are terrible. The movement makes it almost impossible to focus on the page. It's a sad day when I have to remove BBC News Online from my homepage.

  • 152.
  • At 02:41 PM on 08 Nov 2007,
  • Jay wrote:

You say that only people from outside the UK will be able to these ads? Not true! The company I work for has its servers outside the UK, therefore I'm sat in my office in Sussex with these annoying ads getting in my way.

You cannot make a statement saying that only people outside the UK will be able to see these ads when thats patently not true. Anybody with an ounce of IT knowledge would know that many large global companies situated in the UK have their servers outside of the UK

I pay my licence fee AND I have to put up with these ads. I want my money back!!!

As a licence payer, I object to adverts masquerading as news stories such as this one which purports to being a news story about "a new survey" but is in fact little more than an advert for a film and cinema finder website. A bit of quality control on the news please

  • 154.
  • At 10:19 PM on 08 Nov 2007,
  • Jason Beal wrote:

I am very disappointed that the BBC has elected to trash the best news site in the world with advertising. The animated advertising is especially annoying and distracts from the great work that your writers put into the web site. I used your site as a Home Page to follow world events at a glance without being bombarded with ads like every other news site. But alas, I guess the BBC too has succumbed to commercialization of the web.

Jason Beal, Houston, TX, USA

  • 155.
  • At 10:34 PM on 08 Nov 2007,
  • Niels wrote:

Nice one Paul (#143). I followed your recipe and not only does it vanish all the ads but also deletes the remaining whitespace, after a short interval. Result - back to exactly how the BBC News website looked before. Strikes me that if it is this simple to restore the status quo ante, those of us who have been huffing and puffing (me included) about the visually disturbing new look could have saved our breath.
Niels, Denmark

  • 156.
  • At 05:36 AM on 09 Nov 2007,
  • Fiona from Freo wrote:

They flash, they move and there are three of them on every page - and the page jumps on upload. Enough to make me jump back to getting my news by radio - good old BBC World Service. I won't be back to this site until the ad (yes, singular) becomes a lot more subtle. Sure advertise, but not this way.

  • 157.
  • At 03:26 PM on 09 Nov 2007,
  • Fay Robinson wrote:

So Steve, do you ever comment on our comments???? I did leave my opinion (tasteless flashing Airbus advertising in 4 positions!!!)which seems to agree with most. But do not see it posted SO ... are our comments taken into account .... or is this just an "ether" thing????

BBC and adverts?

See the coverage for the much hyped iPhone.

This is much more than just reporting the news, as the phone is hardly packed full of cutting edge technology. Its nothing short of product placement.

Is it true that journalists recieve discounts from Apple for their products? If there is, then, there is a clash of interest here.

With help from the project team and our commercial partners BBC Worldwide, here are responses to some of the most common concerns raised:

• For those asking if we might provide a subscription service that would allow them not to see ads – Richard Sambrook – the BBC’s global news director – answered this here – in short, it’s being looked into.

• The guidelines around advertising on the BBC site will be published in full on the BBC’s editorial policy website in the next few days.

• On requests for no pop-up adverts – it’s been agreed that no pop-up adverts will be run.

• On the finances: I’m told the cost of serving the site for international audiences is commercially confidential, but as to what happens to revenue generated from advertising – it will be invested back into content and services for audiences in the UK and internationally – for example to tailor content more closely for different regions and to make more of the BBC’s video archive available to international users.

• On page download speeds – the technical team are working to ensure these aren’t compromised – it’s a key consideration for them – and the rest of us.

• On the general way the ads look on the site - where and how they appear - your comments are being fed back into the team.

  • 160.
  • At 04:46 PM on 09 Nov 2007,
  • Roger Meli wrote:

I agree with some of the other comments. I moved to the USA and my main link to the UK was through this web site. It is now extremely annoying trying to read a page when the pages move around, flashing at you. Congratulations on dragging yourselves down to the level of everyone else. I will be looking elsewhere for my news about the UK.

I find online advertising really annoying, which is why I subscribe to premium content (such as when it's available. I'm an avid reader (several times a day) of the BBC News website -- where I've always been able to get a European view of world events. (I'm an American living in Chicago.) American media are too sensationalistic and government centered for my taste.

So if you do choose to offer a fee-supported site instead of advertising supported (along the lines of, for instance), then I'll certainly sign up. Of course, it has to be reasonable.

Otherwise, if you get too flashy with the ads, I'll have to either look elsewhere for my worldview, or start blocking them. Neither of which does you any good.

  • 162.
  • At 10:30 PM on 09 Nov 2007,
  • Vivek wrote:

A further contribution - I'm afraid the animated ads *are* jarring and distracting. Could you not consider the subtle approach adopted by Google - and so many other sites that rely on Google ads for generating income?

Why is the cost of serving overseas audiences "commercially confidential" when the BBC is happy to publish all sorts of costs and budgets for all sorts of current spending and future plans? Let's guess: it's because the cost is around threepence.

For the benefit of those who haven't visited the UK recently, there's now a pervasive corporate culture where organisations bleat on about being open, transparent and accountable - and in the same breath will utterly refuse to divulge simple key facts because they'd be embarrassing to the idiots who run them.

One would hope the BBC would be above such shameful behaviour, but clearly the incompetent, the devious, and those with their own agendas are just as evident within the BBC as in other large organisations, and - just like contemptible cowards everywhere - their over-riding concern is to cover their own backs.

  • 164.
  • At 12:26 PM on 12 Nov 2007,
  • Jane - SW Turkey wrote:

Fiona of Frio (#156 is a lucky lady -she can actually revert to the World Service News as an alternative - and if she doesn't like the adverts she MUST mean the radio - you know that thing you used to switch on and off and plugged in!

I say she's lucky because in this part of the world we've put our short wave radios away in the cupboard since the BBC has cut back our wavelengths so much in the past two years reception is virtually non existent however hard you try the various wavelengths. And noone listens to this complaint (I've tried several times to write about this) so while you the Beeb are restructuring everything (and if adverts help with funds so be it)please think about the millions in the world who used to get the (almost) objective news on their radios and now have to rely on other news channels which may perhaps give out messages that encourage the growth of terrorism.

Those 'millions' can't afford the internet and you the BBC have let them down after serving them so well in the past - how many other parts of the world have useless reception these days?

  • 165.
  • At 02:01 PM on 12 Nov 2007,
  • Hugh wrote:

It is disgusting to see the BBC finally join the ranks of those obsessed with consumerism.

How about the BBC actually asking the license payer about such major changes to policy and charter?

I have no confidence that the BBC's desire to earn revenue from advertising will not conflict with any desire for impartiality in its news coverage.

So I have disabled Flash ads, this is a simple add-on for Firefox and means I no longer see the irritating ads for watches, cars etc etc.

I urge others to do the same and make it clear to the BBC that we simply will not be pushed around.

  • 166.
  • At 02:41 PM on 12 Nov 2007,
  • john marsh wrote:

Hundreds (or more) of international voices are asking for a subscription service instead of, or as an alternative to advertisements. Mine too. If you are willing to do this, then why not say so and give some idea of the schedule so we can rest easy and change the subject. If you won't offer such a service, then be kind enough to tell us why not.

  • 167.
  • At 07:26 PM on 12 Nov 2007,
  • Erica wrote:

I couldn't help but notice the adverts as soon as they appeared. They are horribly distracting, particularly because they flash and move and they really cheapen the look of the web site. I agree that, even if they are here to stay, they should be toned down and should definitely not move and flash!

  • 168.
  • At 05:41 AM on 13 Nov 2007,
  • Kevin wrote:

A very sad day. No difference now between the BBC and other news sites - except of course that I will no longer be browsing the BBC.

The BBC should have kept to the values that have made it what it is today and not copy what the commercial sites do. In no time at all the BBC will be no different to any other website and we will have lost something that the entire British nation were all proud of.

  • 169.
  • At 06:09 AM on 13 Nov 2007,
  • Allister wrote:

I'm so disappointed by this ad policy - the animated ones are particularly annoying and intrusive. I've had BBC news as my browser home page for years but it might be time to change to another site. I'd be more than happy to pay for an ad-free BBC and for other services (e.g. Radio 5 live football broadcasts) currently unavailable to users outside the UK. Why weren't we users asked, or at least given different options?

  • 170.
  • At 04:36 PM on 13 Nov 2007,
  • Kara wrote:

Funny how this is supposedly related to the TV licensing fee. I'm in the UK but I don't pay the licensing fee because I don't have a television. Does that mean I shouldn't be allowed to look at the BBC website? And what about UK citizens who have paid their licensing fee but are temporarily abroad? Shouldn't they not be subject to the advertisements? Well, no bother, I use an internet browser that blocks all advertisements anyway. The internet shouldn't be about making money - especially a news website. Have some integrity BBC!

  • 171.
  • At 01:47 AM on 14 Nov 2007,
  • ausssie toi wrote:

Ads? What Ads?
I have looked and really can't see any! maybe it's because i get so used to seeing them they just become part of the background

  • 172.
  • At 12:23 PM on 14 Nov 2007,
  • Jamie wrote:

Actually Kara (#170) you should be paying the license fee. I work in retail and t.v. licensing forms have to be filled out for all purchases of computers and digi-boxes for p.c's.
And as for the ads i am in full support of them as i don't see why uk citizens should have to subsidize the bbc for the rest of the world; however i feel that a subscription based service as requested by many is an idea that should be implented as it is how it works in the uk.

  • 173.
  • At 03:25 PM on 15 Nov 2007,
  • Alistair wrote:

I can't believe the number of posts complaining about the adverts, it's like the days of old when everybody thought that everything on the web should be free, because they could not grasp the basic economics of bandwidth and data transfer.

People, it costs the BBC *money* to serve pages to visitors who do not pay a licence fee. If you truly value the BBC news like you appear to, is an advert really such a devastating addition?

To those who cry that the internet should not be about making money - firstly why on earth not?! I guess you never shop online then.

Secondly, this particular exercise is as much about covering costs as it is raising money.

Knickers and twist spring to mind.

  • 174.
  • At 08:52 PM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • Allister wrote:

I fervently hope that the BBC website doesn't end up being on a par with BBC America on TV here in the US. That is mostly utter rubbish, cluttered with commercials and mindless shows such as "Cash in the Attic" or endless old repeats.

I'd happily pay a fee to have an ad-free BBC website and access to more Radio 5 live programs (I've noticed these are becoming more and more restricted to international users).

Ironically, I'd been happy enough with ads on other websites I visit. When I saw the mess the BBC had made of their site, I finally got around to downloading an ad blocker. So now I don't see any ads on the BBC pages, just a mildly irritating blank area at the top. I left it so all the other sites I visit get their ads seen by me, just not the BBC. Kind of defeats the purpose, don't you think?

  • 175.
  • At 02:20 AM on 24 Nov 2007,
  • Alan McMaster wrote:

About time. The UK TV licence is an appalling stealth tax that purports to pay for 'quality programming'. What nonesense, justified on a secondary level by the preservation of an institution.

The BBC should be competing for revenue and if its products were of sufficient quality then the consumer or networks would elect to buy them.

Nowhere else in the UK is monopoly allowed yet the institution that is the BBC is allowed to automatically charge the consumer an obscene amount for an increasingly poor service.

Whether through advertisements or outright sales of quality programmes to other networks, the BBC has to be made to commercially justify its existance through competitiveness, if not then like any poorly performing organisation it has to close down.

  • 176.
  • At 03:08 PM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • john Bull wrote:

Never mind whether it's necessary or not. We were told, after the recent review, that although advertising would be used outside the UK on the site, UK readers would not be affected. This was a falsehood. An annoying white bar inserts itself in EVERY page, before the page is corrected. Presumably the area where the advert goes internationally. This is annoying and causes the links on the page to move when it re-adjusts, when read from the UK. This is a detriment, and therefore these new changes ARE affecting readers from the uk...what are the BBC going to do about it?? we were promised we would not be affected...

  • 177.
  • At 08:18 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Deborah wrote:

Just saw these ads for the first time. They are really annoying and obtrusive, and make the entire page jump around. The white bar at the top is particularly irritating. I'm setting my home page to the Guardian.

  • 178.
  • At 09:26 PM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • Ana Lima wrote:

It must be working for 177 persons are here to say.
Fortunately I use Firefox. I have already achieved a kind of "blind eyes" to advertisements online. I totally ignore them. Hands on the mouse and eyes on what matters.
Don't annoy me because I simply do not see them.

  • 179.
  • At 09:44 PM on 07 Dec 2007,
  • Wayne wrote:

The ads look cheap and tacky. They ruin the user experience of the BBC site. Sometime they are there sometimes they are not. They take up a third of the screen. I am very sad at how awfully this has been done. Bad, bad, bad in everyway. Look at google for tips on how to make advertising useful. Looks like I will use the Guardian from now on.

  • 180.
  • At 06:28 PM on 09 Dec 2007,
  • stephen jacoby wrote:

It seems that these comments have in part been anticipated by earlier ones, but I wanted you to know what the US readers, of whom a lot I am sure are in this country, think of the particular use of the first space seen on the website for obtrusive advertising:

I do not mind some advertising on your website as a means of supporting its excellent coverage - usually the first place I go to find the news - of the US, and the rest of the world so poorly covered in the US media.

But I deeply resent the new banner advertisement which now causes the news itself to open up lower on my monitor. It is both seriously annoying and ugly (no matter how nice the particular add). The front page used to be extensive, compact, and neatly laid out. Now it looks like a cheap supermarket flier.

Please deep-six this innovation - it may have a potential for increased revenue because the location is by definition so obvious and insistent; but it is going to lose some of your readers and, for some like me, I will spend less time on your site ... and take all your editorial skills and reportorial work differently. It is upfront corrupted by money - that is the image you are now conveying!

Please share my views with others and let me know what the response to your advertising coupe de la tête is.

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