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BBC plans ad-funded Web site

Beeb online to generate coin from o'seas popularity

BBC Worldwide, the pubcaster’s commercial arm, is poised to launch an advertiser-funded Web site to generate coin from the BBC’s popularity overseas.

Plan, certain to spark criticism from the BBC’s commercial rivals, involves the creation of BBC.com, to launch in spring 2007. TV shows will likely be sold via the site.

A “limited number” of ads would be “a very viable option,” according to a BBC rep.

BBC Web pages are very popular overseas, especially in the U.S. Every month BBC.co.uk attracts around 1 billion page impressions overseas vs. 2.1 billion in the U.K.

BBC director of strategy David Moody told newspaper the Guardian, “The BBC should make money from these people (like the site’s U.S. visitors) and return it back to license-fee payers.”

Model for the new site, which would be sans pop-up promos or animated commercials, is the ad-supported BBC World mixed-genre channel, which is not available in the U.K.

New site is likely to eventually offer downloads via a BBC media player. Moody called it a way of “future-proofing programming over the Net.”

Although the imitative must be approved by the soon-to-be-set-up BBC Trust, it seems it will be exempt from the new “public value test” the government is insisting be applied to any public service launched by the BBC.