BBC may sell downloads of programmes overseas

The BBC is looking at the possibility of selling downloads of programmes such as 'Doctor Who' and 'Little Britain' to overseas viewers, as well as putting advertising on its Website for people viewing the site from abroad.

The plans are being examined as ways of deriving more revenue for the BBC, and come after improvements in technology that allow the BBC to identify where internet users are located. This means the BBC can restrict access to UK licence fee payers, but that it could also buy Internet rights for overseas programming and then charge users to watch them from overseas.

Ashley Highfield, director of new media and technology, said in an interview with the Guardian: "It's something we've been mandated to do by our charter. It's now become possible because we have Internet rights that we could charge for, and we now have the technology."

The plan to run advertising on that is served to overseas visitors only, and not license fee payers from the UK, has been mooted in the past, but dismissed because the technology was unreliable.

Now, however, ads could be shown exclusively to people visiting the site from overseas. Highfield said that it was being looked at once again.

The BBC's Website has around 48.1m users a month, of which 22.8m come from overseas.

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