UK Round-Up: Google Ad Subsidies, Digital TV Growth, BBC Contests Resumption

Google (NSDQ: GOOG): Google is axing its commission-giving Best Practice Funding advertising scheme at the end of next year. The scheme opened last year to advertising agencies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, returning to them three to eight percent of the money they spend on Google search advertising if they train two staff members in Google-certified advertising skills. The Guardian reports the scheme is worth up to £50 million annually to agencies. But Google’s EMEA (NSDQ: ERTS) head of agency relations said agencies no longer needed subsidies. Google’s UK sales director Mark Howe told NMA the scheme was being misused by canny acgencies.

Digital TV: The number of households with digital TV increased 13 percent in the last year to 85 percent of the UK, new Ofcom research says, with Freeview making up the bulk of the gain. Freeview penetration rose to 12.9 million homes in June, while digital satellite (BSkyB (NYSE: BSY)) households grew to nine million (1.1 million of them on free-to-air reception) and cable (Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED)) homes grew to 3.4 million. There is just one month left before Whitehaven in Cumbria becomes the UK’s first place to switch off the analogue TV spectrum and move to digital.

BBC: Competitions will return to BBC websites, TV and radio from November, BBC News reports, after the end of an inquiry in to the corporation’s call-TV scandal that today saw three four transgressions discovered and two programme-makers quit over the issue. Contests were suspended in July after six cases in which callers to shows were found to have wasted money because their entries were void saw the BBC join ITV (LSE: ITV), Channel 4 and Five in the mire of the participation TV kerfuffle. A “major new online project” concerning media literacy will be launched to explore how media content is produced, the Beeb said. A producer from the 6Music radio network was yesterday dismissed over earlier breaches and the station’s head of programmes has resigned. New cases to emerge today included the Blue Peter producers who changed the results of an online poll to name the show’s latest cat.