BBC Trust approves ad-supported website

The BBC Trust has approved proposals for a new advertising-funded international website, BBC.com.

Following the launch of the site, advertising will be introduced on some high-traffic pages and later rolled out across the remaining site.

The advertisements on the new site will only be visible to overseas users, who will be identified using Quova geo-IP software. The corporation says this software is more than 99.96 per cent accurate and that UK users’ experience of the existing BBC.co.uk will not be affected.

BBC Worldwide, the corporation’s wholly-owned commercial subsidiary, will operate the site and pay the BBC for the rights to the services it uses.

BBC News will remain responsible for the news pages of the new site. According to the corporation, the existing BBC.co.uk has more than 40 million monthly unique users from outside the UK.

Because most of this traffic goes to the BBC News sections of the site, the BBC’s news operation will be the “principle benefactor” of BBC Worldwide’s payments.

BBC Worldwide has also entered into a joint venture with BBC World, the corporation’s international television service. Under the arrangement, BBC World will receive a portion of the site’s revenue in return for providing editorial, audience and advertising expertise and on-air cross-promotion.

The proposals for introducing advertising to BBC web sites has been controvertial inside the corportation since the idea was first mooted more than a year ago.

In a statement released today, the corporation insisted that the introduction of advertisements “will not affect the quality or integrity of the website” and that “a system of robust editorial safeguards will be implemented to ensure that the BBC’s reputation is not damaged and that the Corporation’s highly regarded journalistic and editorial values will be fully upheld”.

BBC Worldwide chief executive John Smith welcomed the Trust’s decision, calling it a key step towards the company’s goal of deliverign 10 per cent of its revenues from online.

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