If there are now two BBCs, why pay a licence fee?

If there are now two BBCs, why pay a licence fee?


norman lebrecht

November 26, 2014

We clicked on a link and found this:

We’re sorry but this site is not accessible from the UK as it is part of our international service and is not funded by the licence fee. It is run commercially by BBC Worldwide, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the BBC, the profits made from it go back to BBC programme-makers to help fund great new BBC programmes. You can find out more about BBC Worldwide and its digital activities at www.bbcworldwide.com.

Do you need further help?

Actually, no. If the BBC is now two organisations, public and commercial, the case for maintaining the licence fee is fatally weakened.

reith bbc


  • Dennis Marks says:

    The BBC has always had a commercial arm. When I was on staff it was called Enterprises. With its huge expansion into commercial spin-offs – everything from DVDs of the Proms to miniature Teletubbies – it rebranded as BBC Worldwide. The real change is in the status of BBC World Service (now also rebranded as BBC World). Because Mark Thompson traded off government support of the World Service for a less punitive license fee, the BBC now has to find the money to pay for broadcasts to everywhere outside the UK. Hence supping with commercial devils. I just fear that Tony Hall’s spoon isn’t long enough. It may seem odd to suggest that Foreign Office support makes the BBC more independent than commercial exploitation but if you listen ( as I do) to the World Service on a regular basis you may miss the range and variety that preceded Thompson’s under the table deal.

  • Emil Archambault says:

    “BBC Worldwide helps keep the Licence Fee as low as possible, returning over £1bn to the BBC since 2007, and £173.8m in the last financial year, an increase in 11.4% from 2012/13 and equivalent to 10.1% of BBC Television content spend.”

    What’s the problem with a public corporation making some money in order to keep fees down?

    • Will Duffay says:

      Some people need no excuse to bash the BBC. They’ll miss it when Murdoch’s Tory friends eventually kill it.

  • V.Lind says:

    This is how every public broadcaster works. There is no story here. And those who love the arts, good music and quality television should be encouraging the BBC to find ways to succeed, not carping at perfectly standard and legitimate practices.

  • Brian says:

    Last time I took the BBC Radio 3 online survey, I told them I would gladly pay the licence fee if I could to help support HD transmissions and things like the Proms–and have access to extras available only in the UK. I live in the States.