BBC Worldwide firms up plans to launch ad supported site

LONDON - BBC Worldwide has confirmed that it will launch an advertiser-supported international website, BBC.com, as soon as the first quarter of next year, one of the first advertising channels to be affiliated with the BBC brand.

The commercial arm of the publicly funded broadcaster will also be looking into how it can maximise revenues from a pay-per-view service that would allow its audiences to download classic television programmes, which could push its annual revenue above £100m annually.

The two initiatives will be introduced by John Smith, the BBC Worldwide chief executive, who has overseen profits that have more than doubled over a two-year period at BBC Worldwide.
 
The BBC controversially brought in the plan, which was opposed by some of its own staff members, by launching an online survey asking whether it should have advertising across the international versions of its websites, or on the homepage of its news website.
 
The poll has surveyed more than 100,000 people at random who were asked to complete the survey. The results have not yet been published.

A number of potential designs had been prepared by the broadcaster to demonstrate how advertising banners and boxes could be added to the top, bottom and side of the sites.

The BBC.co.uk news website does not carry advertising at present. However, some of the BBC's commercial businesses, including the BBC World television news channel, do take advertising on air and online.

More than 3.5m users visit the BBC News website each day and BBC Worldwide is now looking to profit from the one-third of those users who are based outside the UK. 

Yesterday, BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, reported that it had achieved record profits of £89.4m for 2005/2006, a year-on-year increase of 62%.

The corporation revealed that sales at BBC Worldwide, which publishes the websites and magazines such as Top Gear and Radio Times as well as exporting BBC brands such as BBC America overseas, were up 11% to £784.4m.

BBC Worldwide recorded profits of £37m for 2003/2004, rising 50% to £55m over the course of 2004/2005.

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