.- Vatican Radio has announced that it will carry advertising in an attempt to help defray its 21.4 million Euro ($29.8 million) annual operating fees.
The official broadcasting service of the Holy See, Vatican Radio has never carried advertising in its almost 80 year history.
Three years ago, Vatican Spokesman Frederico Lombardi said that the radio’s audience was too geographically, linguistically and ethnically diverse to appeal to advertisers.
On Friday, however, he announced Vatican Radio would begin accepting advertisements, ANSA reports.
A Tuesday press conference held by Fr. Lombardi and Bishop Renato Boccardo, Secretary of the Governorate of Vatican City, stressed that the project is in an experimental phase and that the ads will be placed at appropriate times in between regular programming.
The first ads will be run by Italian electricity utility ENEL. The ads will be broadcast in five languages from July 6 to September 27.
''We are proud to have been chosen as the first advertiser for a radio station that is among the most wide-reaching in the world,'' ENEL President Piero Gnudi said, according to ANSA.
Vatican Radio generates almost no revenue currently, but is considered a vital contributor to spreading the Gospel.
The station employs about 200 journalists and transmits news, religious events and music programs across the world in 47 languages.