BBC denies giving Huffington Post 'free advertising'

BBC accused of giving HuffPo free advertising

The BBC has become embroiled in a political bias storm amid accusations it gifted free advertising to the Huffington Post as part of an all-day Twenties Takeover of its 5 Live schedule.

Under the terms of the deal, the broadcaster will cede editorial control of its schedule to young journalists aged between 20 and 29 working for the US-based news portal, enabling them to decide upon content, phone-in’s and social media from 06:00 till 01:00 today.

A number of issues centred on the priorities of young people have been identified as part of the takeover including dating, sexual health, work and housing.

Critics have pointed out that this arrangement could translate into a PR boost worth ‘hundreds of thousands’ to HuffPost and have also queried why the initiative couldn’t have been tackled by the BBC’s own young journalists. Questions have also been raised at the left-leaning slant of the Huffington Post and whether this is appropriate for an avowedly impartial public service.

One of those critical of the partnership was former digital minister Ed Vaizey, who told Media Guido: “It seems very odd for the BBC to be partnering with any news organisation at all, given their role in providing impartial news.

“But if they are, in the interests of getting younger voices, then there need to be a range of views, not just the exclusive view of one editorial standpoint.”

The BBC responded to these fears by confirming it retained "complete and sole" responsibility for editorial output, adding that it was open to working with other platforms in the future.

The broadcaster is currently seeking to 'reinvent and refresh' its local radio and news output by expanding its youth-centric brand The Social from Scotland.

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