LONDON: BBC.com, the international news website of the UK's publicly-funded broadcaster, has begun to feature advertising for the first time in the corporation's history.
The controversial move, green-lighted by governing body the BBC Trust to help offset a significant shortfall in its finances, will be seen only by overseas surfers and cannot be accessed from within the UK.
Among the first advertisers to target the site's twenty-eight million estimated users are British Airways, Airbus and Hublot watches.
BBC Worldwide, the broadcaster's commercial arm, hopes to raise around £70 million ($147m; €100m) a year from the venture.
Says BBC.com managing director Kym Niblock: "We're looking to generate revenue for the BBC by monetising its international traffic and these advertisers show the hunger that's out there for the audience we can offer."
There are, however, dissenting voices among the site's regular users, who criticise the ads as a distraction and say they would, instead, prefer to pay a subscription for the news service.
BBC director of global news Richard Sambrook says this option is being considered.
Meanwhile, the editor of the BBC News website, Steve Herrmann has attempted to reassure users that the ads will not compromise editorial integrity.
He said an "editorial guardian" had been appointed to help assess ad campaigns which might result in a conflict of interest.
Adds Herrmann: "Journalists, guided by [the guardian], will have the ability to prevent ads appearing, for example, on sensitive or distressing stories."
Data sourced from MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff