Trust response to the select committee report on the commercial operations of BBC Worldwide

Date: 07.04.2009     Last updated: 23.09.2014 at 09.48
Category: BBC Worldwide
The BBC Trust notes the Culture Media and Sport Committee's findings and will give them careful consideration. The Trust believes that through its own review of BBC Worldwide it already has in hand most of the issues the committee raises.

The Trust has already published an interim statement on its review and concluded that there should be greater clarity to the direction, parameters, and strategic priorities of Worldwide's operations in the UK. The Trust also concluded that there should be changes to Worldwide's detailed control framework to establish a more contained focus for its operations. The Trust will expand on these emerging conclusions when it finalises its review, following the outcome of any negotiations involving BBC Worldwide and Channel 4.

The BBC has been charged by successive Governments with maximising the commercial value that it can realise from investment by licence fee payers. The purpose of BBC Worldwide is to do just that. Through its work it delivers the equivalent of around £9 for every licence fee payer in value created for the BBC.

The Trust believes the BBC should continue to ensure maximum value is derived from its intellectual property, whilst taking into careful consideration the four commercial criteria set out in the Charter, including compliance with fair trading law and the need to protect the BBC's brand and reputation. In its work the Trust will take due account of the views of commercial competitors.

On the suggestion that a proportion of the licence fee should be made available to Channel 4, the Trust believes that solutions to the challenges facing public service broadcasting must find new sources of value, rather than simply reallocate existing funds. Partnerships, such as the one proposed with Channel 4, have a role to play in sustaining the wider UK broadcasting industry. If carried out successfully the BBC's partnership plans can deliver better value not only to the industry, but also to licence fee payers. Because of this, it would be premature to pre-judge the outcome of any partnership discussions when there is the potential for benefits to accrue to all parties.

The Trust has also previously stated that there is still a strong rationale in favour of the ‘first look’ arrangements. The ‘first look’ allows for ‘vertical integration’ in the production process, which is common to many broadcasters, to return greater value to the BBC and licence fee payers. Through the ‘first look’ the BBC can also exercise greater control over the BBC's brand and reputation.