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Trust to reign in BBC World Wide?

November 19, 2008

The BBC Trust has hinted it will rein in the broadcaster's commercial ambitions. The BBC Trust will tighten the guidelines for the operation of BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm, Sir Michael Lyons told MPs.

Sir Michael said the Trust had heard the chorus of complaint from the commercial sector about the reach of BBC Worldwide. "The trust has already decided that we need to tighten both the mission and the guidelines around BBC Worldwide," Sir Michael told the House of Commons select committee on culture, media and sport.

"It is now an appropriate time to review the boundaries of [Worldwide's successful activities] and we are of the view that they need to be modestly contained and the detail of that we will make public once we have finished our inquiries." The hearing was convened to take the BBC's evidence on the activities of Worldwide, a separately run arm that last year had revenues of £919m ($1.4bn) and profits of £117m, which it returned to the public service arm of the corporation.

Sir Michael acknowledged the concern of critics and said the Trust had decided to launch an internal probe into the matter. It was "well advanced" but unfinished. "I can assure you they are going to be tested … and I don't think you are going to be disappointed with the conclusions."

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