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BBC to launch US news website

Reuters
Jul 16, 2010 at 11:19am IST

New York: British state broadcaster BBC on Thursday said it is launching its first US focused news site which will see it go into more direct competition with local broadcasters and newspapers.

BBC has recruited journalists to bulk up its coverage of general news, sports, business and entertainment on the site which launches with advertising partner HP.

The new site will be found at BBC.com. Currently that address has redirected to the bbc.co.uk site which, like the vast majority of BBC's operations, is funded by a license fee paid by every British household.

BBC will be following a path similar to one taken by The Guardian, which launched a US-focused site in 2007.

The BBC receives a guaranteed 3.6 billion pounds ($ 5.4 billon) each year from the license fee.

While BBC's TV, radio and Web operations in the UK do not feature any advertising, the bbc.co.uk global Website features ads when viewed by users in the US.

Miranda Cresswell, senior vice president of BBC.com, said in a statement: "You're going to see more analysis, more insight and more perspective that connects the dots on events and issues that affect us all in the US."

Such an approach will undoubtedly see the BBC compete more directly with US newspapers and broadcasters for local and regional stories. Until now, most of BBC's US coverage has focused on major national stories, usually with an international impact.

This also means that the BBC's US site will be competing for advertising dollars with the Web operations of commercial newspapers and broadcasters who do not have any other source of revenue.

In the UK, it has come under fierce attack from broadcaster BSkyB and other commercial rivals experiencing a severe advertising slump.

James Murdoch, seen as heir to his father Rupert Murdoch's News Corp's media empire, has described the broadcaster's scale and ambitions as "chilling".

The amount of free content the BBC already makes available online has discouraged many UK newspapers from attempting to charge readers for content on the Web.

By unveiling a US-focused site, the BBC will be following a similar path to one already taken by British newspaper The Guardian, which launched a US-focused site called Guardian America in 2007.

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