Free scraps plan to block web ads

Advertisers and site owners who rely on income from banners complained to digital economy minister Fleur Pellerin

8 January 2013

INTERNET service provider Free has abandoned plans to automatically block ads on websites visited by its customers, after uproar from advertisers who warned it would jeopardise the digital economy.

Free had been planning to allow users of its Freebox revolution box to not see advertising banners by default - requiring them to opt in to continue receiving ads.

Advertisers and site owners who rely on income from banners complained to digital economy minister Fleur Pellerin that the move would seriously harm their business.

Pellerin said yesterday that she had spoken to Free and it had agreed to drop its plan. She said it would have been "unacceptable" and have "serious consquences" on online publishers' attempts to make money.

Free launched its new all-in-one Freebox Revolution in 2010, with broadband web access, HD-TV and web TV, Wi-Fi, free calls to mobile phones and lignes fixe in France, a 3D-compatible Blue-Ray DVD player and 250Gb of storage.

Designed by Philippe Starck, the new generation box followed Free's pioneering offer of "bundled" internet, phone and TV services and has led to other providers such as France Télécom/Orange, SFR and Bouygues offering similar services.

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