BBC unveils plans for ad-funded site

BBC Worldwide, the BBC's commercial arm, has announced plans to launch an ad-funded website under the name BBC.com.

The proposed website aims to profit from the Corporation's popularity abroad and forms part of the BBC's plans to find alternatives to the licence fee as a revenue source. New software will track overseas users of BBC.co.uk and redirect them to BBC.com.

BBC.com will use advertising, rather than charge for access. This plan is likely to meet with criticism from the BBC's commercial rivals, who say the Corporation is already capitalising on its publicly funded programming.

The BBC is also looking into the possibility of a BBC Interactive Media Player. For a fee, the service will allow viewers to download episodes of programmes such as Doctor Who and Little Britain.

In 2002, BBC Worldwide shut down Beeb.com, its loss-making online shopping portal. The site allowed visitors to access BBC brands such as Top Gear and Radio Times.