So there I was, looking forward to reading an article about bees
, and all I got was:
We're sorry but this site is not accessible from the UK as it is part of our international service and is not funded by the licence fee. It is run commercially by BBC Worldwide, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the BBC, the profits made from it go back to BBC programme-makers to help fund great new BBC programmes.
I've seen this before, but this time I was more WTF than normal, so I looked into it. And was a bit confused because that the page above, and their "about" page
, and the BBC "online" FAQ
, and Wikipedia, and a whole bunch of other places, don't actually explain this in any detail.
I mean, why can't BBC Worldwide Ltd. show me stuff? BBC Worldwide Ltd. isn't funded by the license fee, but is a separate company (even if it is owned by The BBC) and relies on adverts to pay for its content. But then, 21st Century Fox is a separate company from the BBC and relies on adverts to pay for its content too, but that doesn't stop them from showing me their content.
It appears that the problem is that BBC Worldwide Ltd., despite being a separate company from The BBC, still operates under The BBC Charter and Agreement
, which prohibits it from showing content which is "wholly or partly funded by advertisements, subscription, sponsorship, pay-per-view system, or any other alternative means of finance..." to UK residents. (Agreement, ¶75(2)(b), ¶76(1)(a), ¶102, others?) Although, as far as I can tell, The BBC is not meant to turn a profit, but BBC Worldwide Ltd. apparently has some kind of exception which allows it to do so.
Anyway, although it might be easy for BBC Worldwide Ltd. to show UK residents their content and simply not bother them with any adverts, or even to have a simple exception for BBC Worldwide Ltd. where there were a clear separation between advertising and content, the "partly funded by ... sponsorship" clause is presumably the real deal-breaker there. Where the line between content and advertising breaks down, and BBC Worldwide Ltd. can't claim editorial independence over content that nevertheless has their name on it, the merest possibility of tarnishing the good name of The BBC with UK residents and licence fee payers would seem to be a step no-one is prepared to take. (Although tarnishing their name in this way with Johnny Foreigner is fine?)
Needless to say, this is not a problem for the previously-mentioned 21st Century Fox.
And that's why I can't read about what would happen if bees went extinct.