The BBC will carry adverts on the international version of its Website from next year, it has been revealed. John Smith, chief executive of BBC Worldwide – the commercial arm of the BBC – outlines the controversial plans yesterday.
Critics immediately claimed the move would draw advertising money away from competitors.
The news came as BBC Worldwide yesterday reported profits of £89.4million in the year to March 31, up 62 per cent on the previous year.
Mr Smith insisted the adverts would be ‘low-key’ and limited to ‘still ads’ that appear in the middle of online articles. There are no plans for pop-ups or banner ads.
Mr Smith said: ‘It would be a limited number of ads. It will not be totally commercial in that it will not be invasive.’ A BBC spokeswoman added: ‘We have 40million unique overseas visitors a month to our site who do not pay for any of its content.
‘That is a lot of people and this will be a modest level of advertising. We will have the technology in place to identify overseas users and this will not affect people in the UK who pay a license fee.’
The BBC.co.uk site attracts about 1billion page impressions a month from outside Britain, of which about a third are from the US.
BBC money-making ventures must fit the corporation’s public service remit, Government guidelines say.
It must also be commercially viable and neither undermine the BBC’s reputation nor receive unfair subsidies from the licence fee.
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