BBC DG hails Worldwide, says it must deliver more

BBC director general Tony Hall

BBC director general Tony Hall

Tony Hall said Worldwide recorded a ‘very strong’ performance through the year as the commercial arm of the UK pubcaster published its annual results. The Worldwide chairman and BBC director general added the commercial arm of the UK pubcaster will need to deliver 30% more back to the corporation in light of its latest financial settlement with government.

Reiterated the need for Worldwide to increase the level of returns to the BBC to make up for shortfalls elsewhere, Hall said: “With a lower financial settlement and increased responsibilities to fund, maximising our commercial revenue is imperative, not optional.”

He added: “The Board of the BBC is looking to BBC Worldwide to provide £1.2 billion of returns over the first five years of the next Charter.This represents more than a 15% uplift on the previous five years, or almost 30% adjusted for dividends relating to disposals during that term.”

Worldwide notched an increase in sales, but a decline in profits in the first year since offloading half of the BBC America channel.

The commercial arm of the UK public broadcaster issued its results this morning. It notched annual revenues of £1.029 billion, a 6.7% increase year on year. Profit of £133.8 million was down 3.5% with the contribution from BBC America effectively halved after its sale to AMC.

Worldwide’s contribution to the core BBC was £222.2 million compared with £226.5 million a year earlier.

Stripping out the impact of the BBC America sale – the previous year’s results included seven months worth of contributions from a fully owned BBC America – Worldwide said its headline profits were up 4% and contribution to the main Corporation was up 17.6%.

Worldwide chief executive Tim Davie said the organisation is delivering on his three-pronged strategy of increased focus on premium programming, growing global brands, and moving to digital products and services. He added that increased investment in drama is paying off, with drama sales now accounting for almost half of the distribution total.

In the context of staff cuts at the main BBC, Davie noted that Worldwide shed 176 staff, 9% of its total, through the year, saving £10.8 million. “This has enabled us to invest to meet clients’ and audiences’ future needs, while maintaining our financial performance in the face of very real margin pressure,” Davie said.

Looking ahead the Worldwide chief said the company has a strong slate of upcoming series, highlighting new episodes of Sherlock, as well Doctor Who companion piece Class, SS-GB, The Collection, the all-new Top Gear, and Planet Earth II.

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