Peers back govt on BBC Worldwide sell-off

By staff

The BBC’s main commercial arm BBC Worldwide must be privatised, peers have said, in a move backing the government’s position.

The wholly-owned subsidiary has a turnover of £1 billion and is by far the largest of the active exporters helping the British film and TV industries.

In December the government announced its desire to see BBC Worldwide part-privatised. Peers said the BBC Trust’s response was “lukewarm”.

The Lords’ communications committee’s report published today argues that not selling off a stake in the company will hold British film and TV companies back.

“The film industry in the UK suffered by being unable to support a successful, sustainable, worldwide distribution company,” the report stated.

“BBC Worldwide has the potential to fulfil this role for the UK television industry… But it is now limited in its activity, earnings and export potential, because of its exclusive ownership by the BBC.”

It proposes creating a public-private company on the lines proposed by the government. This, it argues, would become a “major global brand for distributing UK content”.