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Media News

BBC rolling out U.S. news site

* New BBC site will focus on U.S. news and feature ads

* BBC will compete for news, ads with U.S. papers

NEW YORK, July 15 (Reuters) - British state broadcaster BBC [BBC.UL] on Thursday said it is launching its first U.S. 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.

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 U.S.”

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 U.S. 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 BSY.L and other commercial rivals experiencing a severe advertising slump.

James Murdoch, seen as heir to his father Rupert Murdoch's News Corp's NWSA.O 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 U.S.-focused site, the BBC will be following a similar path to one already taken by British newspaper The Guardian, which launched a U.S.-focused site called Guardian America in 2007.

Reporting by Yinka Adegoke

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