BBC paying off Google?

Recently we’ve run separate critiques of BBC and Google. Now this Guardian report comes to our attention:

Just 48 hours before Lord Hutton delivers his verdict on the controversy surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly, the BBC has begun an advertising experiment that involves buying up all internet search terms relating to the inquiry.

Despite being one of the main players in the drama, anyone searching for “Hutton inquiry” or “Hutton report” on the UK’s most popular search engine Google is automatically directed to a paid-for link to BBC Online’s own news coverage of the inquiry.

No other news broadcaster or any newspaper has paid Google for this facility, leaving the corporation’s move even more conspicuous.

As one of the chief “interested parties” in the Hutton inquiry into the apparent suicide of Dr Kelly, the move will strike many as worthy of comment, not least because the BBC’s online news pages will not be the most obvious place to go for the most comprehensive coverage, which is bound to include painful criticism of the corporation.

It could be that BBC simply included ‘Hutton inquiry’ in its Google Ad Words, as a part of a larger ad campaign to attract new viewers, but it would seem appropriate under the circumstances to omit that particular topic.

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