BBC Worldwide is the main commercial arm and a wholly owned subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Its mission is to create, acquire, develop and exploit media content and brands around the world in order to maximise the value of the BBC's assets for the benefit of the UK licence payer.
In 2008/09 BBC Worldwide generated profits of £103 million (before exceptionals) on revenues of £1.004bn.
BBC Worldwide operates under the BBC Charter and Agreement, which sets out four commercial criteria with which our activities must comply. BBC Worldwide's activities must:
- Fit with the BBC's Public Purposes as set out in the Charter;
- Be commercially efficient;
- Not jeopardise the good reputation of the BBC or the value of the BBC brand
- Comply with the BBC's Fair Trading Guidelines and avoid distorting the market
BBC Worldwide provides a global showcase for the best of British creative talent including actors, journalists, presenters, writers, directors, musicians, designers and technicians. We sell programmes and formats produced by more than 500 different UK independent producers. Through our activities we build the reputation of the BBC globally and in April 2009 we were awarded the Queen's Award for Enterprise which recognised the company's substantial growth in overseas earnings over the past three years.
Over the past five years we have invested more than £1bn in the UK's creative sector, making BBC Worldwide a major supporter of this increasingly important area of 'UK plc'.
The Guardian has reported that the British government is urging the BBC to sell off BBC Worldwide.
Given that BBC Worldwide is dependent on BBC programming to make sales, such a move is completely ludicrous. A privately owned BBC Worldwide, which would probably need to change its name, would then have to buy programming (offshore distributions rights) from the BBC itself, amongst other independent productions, to on-sell to third parties.