BBC Worldwide will look at expanding new American SVOD service BBC Extra into new territories, and will not be forced to sell its £500 million (US$723 million) stake in UKTV, a government White Paper published has revealed this morning.
The BBC’s commercial arm has been considering “the best way to monetise its content abroad”, and whether an “international subscription model” could help the BBC to maximise global revenues.
BBC Extra recently launched in the US, as the UK’s public broadcaster attempts to build BBCWW’s revenues, which fell last year. The Conservative government’s White Paper said an international SVOD service “could address these issues”.
“The government will support such initiatives, and enable the BBC to do what is needed to achieve the most value for licence fee payers,” the Paper noted.
The White Paper’s publication has been a hot button topic in the UK, with many in the creative industries concerned culture secretary John Whittingdale’s reform could damage Britain’s local production business. Whittingdale was criticised after recently joking to a Conservative student union meeting that closing the BBC was “a tempting prospect”.
Today the paper was unveiled to the public following weeks of leaks to sections of the British press.
The current BBC Charter comes to an end in December, at which point many of the government’s proposals will likely come into force.
The BBC responded to the paper by noting the government had not called for the pubcaster to reduce its size and scope, nor sell commercial assets – a reference to its 50% stake in profitable UK channels operator UKTV.
UKTV co-owner Scripps has at least once attempted to buy out BBCWW’s stake in the business, which has channels such as Dave, W and Yesterday. The US cable group has lobbied government to push through a deal, but this has not come to pass.