Director General joins battle to improve BBC's commercial arm

Editor ©RapidTVNews | 13-03-2012

Only days after the corporation he leads was slammed by politicians for its lack of ambition in maximising revenue opportunities, BBC Director General Mark Thompson is to take on the responsibilities of non-executive Chairman of BBC Worldwide.
The wholly owned BBC subsidiary has become the main commercial arm of the broadcast giant, existing to maximise the value of the BBC’s assets. In 2010/11, BBC Worldwide generated profits of £160 million on sales of £1.158 billion and returned £182 million to the BBC as it struggles to maintain quality standards following the effective cuts from the most recent licence fee settlement.
It is through this prism that Thompson's appointment can be seen and can be considered as almost de facto acceptance of responsibility to improve business performance at BBC Worldwide, a facet noted UK Parliament’s Committee of Public Accounts who in March 2012 criticised the BBC for a perceived poverty of ambition in its efforts to make efficient savings and boost commercial revenues.
Making its judgement on the basis of evidence from the BBC and the BBC Trust, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said that even though overall the BBC has managed its efficiency programme well and is forecasting that it will deliver £560 million of annual savings by the end of 2012-13, it had under performed in terms of maximising commercial opportunities.
This appointment, which takes immediate effect, also follows the departure of Robert Webb QC, who stepped down from the BBC Worldwide Board at the end of February to become General Counsel at Rolls Royce. Commenting on the move Mark Thompson said: "Robert has played an invaluable role, providing guidance and counsel to BBC Worldwide through the past few years. His tenure as Chairman has coincided with BBC Worldwide’s strongest financial results, returning more money to the BBC than ever before. This in turn helps keep the licence fee as low as possible.”
Just as Thompson was being installed BBC Worldwide Digital Entertainment and Games today announced the official launch of Doctor Who: Worlds in Time (, the first-ever browser-based, free-to-play multiplayer online game based on the popular television series.