BBC Commercial Operations: Fifth Report of Session 2008-09; Report, Together with Formal Minutes, Oral and Written Evidence

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The Stationery Office, 2009 - Political Science - 253 pages
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This report investigates: the governance of the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide; the activities of BBC Worldwide, including programme sales, production, magazines and websites; BBC Worldwide's acquisition of Lonely Planet; and the possible partnership between BBC Worldwide and Channel 4. There are major benefits from the BBC undertaking commercial activities: the profits generated by the exploitation of the BBC's intellectual property can be reinvested in the BBC's public services, to the benefit of licence fee payers. But the manner in which some of the BBC's commercial revenue is generated, and the governance arrangements within which the BBC Worldwide operates, causes increasing concern. Worldwide has proved successful in recent years in exploiting new commercial opportunities, made possible by a loosening of the rules that govern the limits to its operations. However, there a balance to be drawn between Worldwide generating a return for the BBC, and limiting Worldwide's operations in order to ensure it upholds the BBC's reputation and does not damage its commercial competitors. Worldwide's minority stakes in overseas production companies, its controversial acquisition of Lonely Planet, and its growing portfolio of magazines, suggest that the balance has been tipped too far in favour of Worldwide's unrestricted expansion, jeopardising the reputation of the BBC and having an adverse impact on its commercial competitors. It is in the interests of the UK's creative economy as a whole that BBC Worldwide's activities are reined back. The BBC Trust should reinstate the rule that all BBC commercial activity must have a clear link with core BBC programming.

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Programme sales
Magazines and Websites
Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide
Formal Minutes

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