TV Centre sold, digital revs up, international sales leap and star salaries pared at BBC

Joseph O'Halloran | 17-07-2012
Set to meet the financial challenges for the next five years but with unprecedented challenges ahead, is how BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten is describing the Corporation as it reports its Annual Report for 2011/12.As it announced the sales of the iconic Television Centre building in West London to property developers Stanhope Plc for a total price in the order of £200 million, the BBC revealed am 8% rise in BBC Worldwide headline profit to £155 million with headline sales up by 5% to £1.085 billion in the 12 months to 31 March 2012; revenue generated by digital businesses reaching 12.8% of revenue, up over four percentage points on the previous year with a million downloads of the global iPlayer barely a year after launch; and a paring of star salary costs to just over £16 million from £21 million the year previously.BBC Worldwide was revealed as a star performer in much–needed revenue generation and its revenues were described as a demonstration of the Corporation’s “on-going commitment to embrace emerging platforms” including web, apps, social networks, connected TV and consumer technologies. In 2011/12, sales to video-on-demand (VOD) services, both new over-the-top (OTT) operators as well as established broadcasters almost tripled.Despite his obvious satisfaction at the response by the BBC in the face of severe cuts to the Licence Fee and the controversy of the move of select broadcasting departments top the new Media City in Salford, Putting this into context, Lord Patten said that in his first full year as Chairman he had seen many examples of the BBC at its best, from covering the most significant world news stories to bringing 144 hours of new British drama to TV screens and attracting record audiences for factual programming.However he warned that there would be challenges ahead as the Corporation begins to implement the savings required by the last licence fee settlement – while continuing to drive down senior management pay, increase transparency and maintain standards across its output. 2012/11 was the penultimate year of the BBC’s current efficiency programme and delivered £499 million of savings against its 2008/09 baseline. The BBC Trust believes the BBC has the capacity to achieve even more and has set a new target to deliver a further 11% by 2016/17.Revealing his objectives for the coming year, Patten said; “One of our main priorities is ensuring the BBC produces genuinely distinctive programmes, and progress has been made here, although there is more to do. We have also continued to push hard on value for money, encouraging the BBC to continue to drive down senior management pay and draw up a plan for living in more financially constrained times.”