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I know it may sound far-fetched, but I can remember a time when our local state surplus outlet was afraid to be "corrupted by eBay" and were giving away thousands of dollars a month in used computers and furniture. Guess who recently went to an all auction sale structure?
As the PBS website is already moving in this direction could this be a future growth area and if you use some of the Google tools available for site targetting you can see from the amount of traffic that a good guess would give PBS website may well have moved from a cost center to a profit center
On the other hand, if some of these sites get millions of page views per day, the payout could be substational over the course of a year.
Also, many tourist offices (including some operated as city departments) are engaged in e-commerce and sell advertising on their Web sites. I don't know how many run AdSense ads, but I'd guess that some do.
I don't see what was unfair about the arrangement from the hotels' point of view. Maybe the Banff media were behind the uproar -- the website actually WAS competing with them for advertising dollars. But anyway you can see that government agencies have to think about a lot more than a single bottom line.