BBC response to commercial operations report

23 September 2009

The Culture Media and Sport Committee today releases its seventh report of session 2008-09. The report comments on the BBC Trust’s response to an earlier Committee report, BBC Commercial Operations, published on 7 April 2009

The Committee received two responses to its report, one from the Government and one from the BBC Trust. It is the BBC Trust’s response, received on 1 July 2009, upon which the Committee’s report today comments.

In the report, the Committee accuses the BBC Trust of avoiding responding to a number of the report’s recommendations and says that its response cannot be regarded as "coherent." The Committee rejects the BBC Trust’s claim that the commercial criteria used by BBC Worldwide are more stringent and highlights the purchase of Lonely Planet as the most egregious example of the nature of BBC Worldwide’s expansion into areas where the BBC has no, or very limited interests.

Furthermore, in noting the Trust’s failure adequately to address many of their recommendations, the Committee expresses their concern at the "apparent arrogance of the BBC Trust who appear to believe they had no case to answer."

Committee Chairman John Whittingdale said:

"Since the Committee agreed this report, the BBC Trust has announced changes to the governance arrangements of BBC Worldwide. In particular, I welcome the fact that the Trust has now made two changes which were specifically called for by the Select Committee in April: Namely the removal of Chief Executive of BBC Worldwide from the BBC’s Executive Board and the reduction in the threshold for referral of transactions to the Trust to £30 million. Given this, I am all the more surprised that the BBC Trust made no reference to these issues in its response to the Committee’s report in July, nor did it acknowledge the Committee’s role in its own announcement last week.

"This is a further illustration of the disregard shown by the Trust to the work done by the Committee and its arrogance in appearing to dismiss many of its recommendations without proper consideration or comment. We look to the BBC to respond with greater diligence to Select Committee reports in future."

Image: PA

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