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BBC readies global web and TV expansion

US iPlayer in the works

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Just as the BBC is slashing jobs at home, its commercial tentacle is ramping up efforts to squeeze money from its programming and web content abroad.

As well as 30 new channels in overseas territories, BBC Worldwide is planning an advertising-backed version of its on-demand internet service iPlayer, the Guardian reports.

The controversial Kontiki-based Microsoft-only P2P service is currently blocked to non-UK IP addresses because it is paid for by the TV licence.

The cash-strapped corporation has told Worldwide to double the profits it funnels back. BBC bigwigs want it to make £222m annually in five years' time.

The push is behind plans, given the green light by the BBC Trust this month, to serve advertising to international users of its web content. That move alone is predicted to bring in £70m per year.

Online efforts will be expanded to include 15 "passion-based" portals themed on popular and advertiser-friendly shows such as Top Gear.

The new TV channels will aim to build on the popularity of BBC America with a high definition version. Other new entertainment, factual, lifestyle, and children's channels are in the works for the US. Europe is being targeted too, beginning with Poland in December.

"We are taking on the big American channel providers and there isn't another UK competitor who can," said Worldwide's channels boss Darren Childs.

More here. ®

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