BBC Worldwide cash flow return up 16% to ?123 million

LONDON: BBC Worldwide's review for the financial year 2002/03 reveals a record cash flow return to the BBC of ?123 million for investment in programming and other services. This marks an increase of 16 per cent on last year's record of ?106 million.

An official release informs that in spite of an extremely tough year for the media industry globally, sales from continuing operations, including joint ventures, also rose - from ?632 million in 2001/2 to ?640 million in 2002/03. Figures for 2002/03 also show that BBC Worldwide's total operating profit trebled to ?33.9 million; post exceptionals, profit rose by 26 per cent to ?32.4 million and profit on continuing operations has now reached a record ?44 million.

BBC Worldwide Chief Executive, Rupert Gavin said, "These record results are remarkable in a period of global recession which has hit the TV and advertising markets hard. We have made our most significant contribution to BBC programming ever - ?123 million means that we add more than ?5 per year to the value of every licence fee in the UK."

Notable success stories from the year include the significant business growth in key territories such as the USA and Canada. This has been driven by strong performances by BBC channels, particularly BBC America, and joint venture partnerships as well as the growth in North America of TV formats. BBC Worldwide claims to have three game shows either on air or in pilot for three major US networks.

Formats have been key to the company's business growth: two new deals with US broadcasters will see three out of the four major commercial US networks transmitting BBC formats. The Sack Race and Nice Package are two new game shows being piloted by CBS and ABC (respectively) in the USA. In addition the NBC version of Dog Eat Dog is continuing its run with a new primetime 13-part series.

Other key factors are video/DVD sales, including the million-selling hit series The Office; and the success of BBC Books, now the UK's leading hardback adult non-fiction publisher. During the year, BBC Worldwide licensed more than 40,000 hours of programming around the world, grew its global network of TV channels to reach more than 550 million homes, sold 100 million magazines and around 30 million book, video, DVD, audio, music and multimedia products.

Best-selling titles, across formats, included The Office, The Weakest Link (adapted by Star Plus as Kamzor Kadii Kaun) , Blue Planet (airing in India on Discovery) , The Life of Mammals. In television and television-related sales, BBC Worldwide's share of the total UK market rose to a record 54 per cent growing an otherwise flat market. The Walking with brand has generated more than ?43 million over the last five years.

BBC Worldwide's channels' global reach grew by 20 per cent from 460 million homes to over 550 million homes. BBC America was the major channels success story, exceeding its targets by achieving a reach of 34.5 million homes. In December 2002 it became the second-fastest growing cable channel in the USA. The new channel BBC Food in Southern Africa was an immediate hit and launched in Scandinavia in June 2003.

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