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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 October 2007, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
BBC's global website to carry ads
BBC International web site
Overseas users will see adverts when they visit BBC websites
Advertising will appear on the BBC News website for users outside the UK, the corporation's commercial arm says.

BBC Worldwide says advertising will generate new income for the BBC, which needs to plug a 2bn budget shortfall.

The BBC argues that overseas readers, who do not pay the licence fee, should contribute towards the costs.

However, critics say commercialisation will undermine the editorial integrity of the BBC and is a slippery slope towards privatisation.

BBC Worldwide says the advertising will be introduced on popular web pages but did not say when the first adverts will be carried.

Adverts currently appear on the BBC World television channel, which cannot be seen in the UK, and were recently introduced on the international website's video content.

'Natural development'

More than half the users of the news site are outside the UK.

"Introducing advertising on international traffic to news pages is a natural development in the growth of the BBC's commercial news services," says Richard Sambrook, director of BBC global news.

THE EDITORS' BLOG
Editors' blog
We won't be offering any highly intrusive advertising
Richard Sambrook,
director, BBC global news

The decision comes as the BBC announces job losses in an effort to cut costs after a smaller licence fee settlement from the government.

While UK users pay for the website through their licence fee, international audiences are getting the service for free, the corporation says.

Reaching readers outside the UK adds to the BBC's costs because additional servers are needed. As more video is made available on the site, more servers will be required, hence costs will continue to rise.

Rivals upset

The decision to carry advertising will also upset online rivals.

The British Internet Publishers Alliance (BIPA), which represents the Guardian Media Group and News International, said earlier this year that the plan would hit revenue its members could make online.

Showing adverts to non-UK readers of BBC websites would also undermine the BBC's "worldwide reputation for integrity and impartiality", it added.

BBC Worldwide had earlier pledged that the bbc.com site would not feature pop-up promos or the sort of adverts that "give the web a bad name".

So-called geo-IP technology will be used to ensure that only non-UK users of the site see the advertising, although critics argue that the technology is not 100% reliable.

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