BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, is selling its Lonely Planet travel guide business at the knockdown price of £51.5M ($77M) after paying £130M to acquire it in an earlier two-stage deal. The company had been looking for a buyer for the past year before settling on Brad Kelley’s Nashville-based NC2 Media, a content creation, acquisition, and distribution company which is also engaged in developing new technologies. The sale price has been criticized by the BBC’s governing body, the BBC Trust, whose Diane Coyle said, “Given the significant financial loss to Worldwide… we have asked the BBC executive to commission a review of lessons learnt and report to the Trust with its findings.” According to The Guardian, Coyle allowed there had been a “credible rationale” for the original purchase, but said, “Worldwide would not make this sort of acquisition again.” BBCWW handles about 50,000 hours of BBC and independently-produced content including such series as Doctor Who, Top Gear and Teletubbies. Interim BBCWW CEO, Paul Dempsey, said, “We acquired Lonely Planet in 2007 when both our strategy and the market conditions were quite different.” Despite Lonely Planet’s growth, Dempsey allowed, “We have also recognized that it no longer fits with our plans to put BBC brands at the heart of our business.” READ MORE »
The BBC Trust, the Beeb’s internal regulator, is to give government spending watchdog the National Audit Office free rein to scrutinise its accounts. The Beeb is bowing to government pressure to give the NAO unfettered access to what it spends. This means that top BBC talent could have their salaries published for the first time. Plus many BBC stars make their shows for the Beeb through their own production companies. BBC stars who own their own production companies include Steve Coogan
UPDATE: In announcing the freeze, the BBC has bowed to the inevitable. New UK Prime Minister David Cameron first called for the licence fee to be frozen in March. TV consultant Claire Enders of Enders Analysis tells me this is a ”sensible approach from the BBC to accept that it does not require this additional income to fulfill its responsibilities.” And budget trims of 3% sound measly at a time government departments are facing 25% reductions. But BBC Trust, the Beeb’s governing body, warns that £144 million will have to be chopped from planned budgets. Responds the TV Producers’ lobbyist PACT: “We are alarmed at what impact this may have on the TV programme budget and the consequences that any further reduction will have on individual programme budgets, which are already
The talent agents point out the BBC needs their clients’ permission to quote how much their clients earn. Which the stars are hardly likely to give. “What the BBC is doing is just a sop to the government,” says one agent. Sir Michael Lyons, chairman of the BBC’s oversight body BBC Trust, has called on the Beeb to publish how much its stars earn. It all stems from the furor after the BBC disclosed that TV host Jonathan Ross was paid £6 million ($9 million) a year.