The BBC’s Worldwide division is raising £170 million (€200m) in a bond issue, according to FT. The borrowing, first mentioned back in May, is said to be trying to find new ways to finance BBC Worldwide, its commercial arm.
Profits from BBC Worldwide are supposed to be channelled into the wholly publicly-funded BBC. However, BBC Worldwide has made more than a few expensive missteps over the past year or two. The most damaging was a recent purchase of the Lonely Planet guidebook and travel publisher. BBC Worldwide paid a hugely controversial £130 million for the publisher, and lost some £80 million when it sold the outfit to Nashville-based NC2 for £51 million.
The purchase (and sale) generated widespread criticism, not least from the BBC Trust, the BBC’s governing body. It has been reported that Lord Chris Pattern, the Trust’s chairman, has been seeking to rein BBC Worldwide’s activities and limit its activities to focusing on core BC programming output.
BBC Worldwide has already sold off or licensed all of its magazines, usually programming linked (Top Gear, Gardeners’ World, Bob the Builder) and including Radio Times, its listings weekly.