Public Accounts Committee

BBC Commercial Activity inquiry

Inquiry status: Concluded

Report published 6 July 2018.

Report and response published

Scope of the inquiry

The BBC owns commercial subsidiary companies that can generate profit. They cannot be funded through the licence fee, and must fit within the BBC’s mission to inform, educate and entertain. As of April 2017, these subsidiaries employed 4,900 Their 2016–17 revenue was £1.2 billion.

A recent report by the National Audit Office examined the BBC’s commercial landscape. It found a total of 110 subsidiary companies, mostly under the control of BBC Worldwide, which managed sale and distribution of BBC content. It also highlighted upcoming changes to BBC operations. For example, two of its largest companies—BBC Worldwide and BBC Studios—would merge on 1 April 2018. BBC commercial content has recently begun to be regulated by Ofcom rather than the BBC Trust (BBC’s governing body). Meanwhile, the BBC is now audited annually by the National Audit Office; previously this financial oversight has been conducted by a private company.

The Committee will ask the BBC whether its commercial activities deliver good value for money for the taxpayer. They will also ask how the BBC is positioning itself to compete in a changing television marketplace, and how confident it is that recent changes to its commercial structure will deliver benefits for the future.


Read all transcripts, written evidence and other material related to the inquiry on BBC Commercial Activity.


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