The BBC is set to recruit dozens of advertising executives as it looks to bolster its website income. The corporation is close to approving a plan under which advertising will be sold on its websites that can be viewed by those living outside the UK.
The move will generate tens of millions of pounds in ad revenue for the BBC and will cause consternation among the broadcaster's commercial rivals. They are already struggling to compete financially with the corporation.
The BBC's international portals are visited by 40 million internet users outside the UK every month. They rank among the most popular websites in the world. The proposal to sell advertising on them has already been approved by a committee of senior editorial figures at the BBC, as well as by the corporation's executive management board.
The plan now requires the approval of the BBC Trust, the new body that came into being earlier this month to replace the BBC Board of Governors.
A BBC executive said: "The thought at the moment is to keep the advertising work in-house, which will mean a big expansion of the number of people in that department." The new website advertising department will be based in London.
The Government is expected to announce this week that the BBC licence fee will increase by 3 per cent in 2007-8 and 2008-9 and by 2 per cent for the three years after that. The BBC is also negotiating to increase its borrowing limit, which has been set at £200m since 1992.