The BBC’s Charter permits it to undertake commercial activities provided these fit with its mission and Public Purposes, are not funded through licence fee income, and are undertaken with a view to generating a profit. In 2016–17, the BBC’s total commercial revenue was £1.2 billion, compared to licence fee income of £3.8 billion. The BBC cannot undertake commercial activities directly, but must do so through subsidiaries. In 2017–18, the BBC had four main subsidiaries of varying size and complexity, sat under an umbrella subsidiary, BBC Commercial Holdings: these were BBC Worldwide, BBC Studios, BBC Global News, and BBC Studioworks. In April 2018, Worldwide and Studios merged, creating a new commercial entity, known as BBC Studios, which unites the BBC’s commercial production, sales and distribution arms. The BBC’s 2016 Royal Charter granted the National Audit Office audit access to the commercial activities for the first time, from April 2017. Our inquiry was, therefore, the Committee’s first opportunity to scrutinise the BBC’s commercial activities.
Published: 6 July 2018