BBC Gratifies Beancounters, Irks Audiences

05 July 2007

LONDON: Accountants are beaming with bonhomie at the fiscal performance of the publicly-owned British Broadcasting Corporation. The paying public, however, is somewhat less enamoured.

In its financial year to March 31, the BBC posted a surplus of £60.7 million ($122.42m; €81.92m). Its annual income of £4.42bn soared from £4.23bn in 2005/6, when it generated a mere £3.6m surplus.

Of these amounts, the compulsory licence fee levied on all TV-owning UK homes, generated £3.24bn compared to £3.1bn in the preceding fiscal year.

But despite the hand-rubbing by the beancounters, the public sounded a note of dissent, complaining at the corporation's lack of innovation.

Research carried out by the broadcasting titan's governing body, the BBC Trust, shows that viewers believe the BBC should be more innovative - although in what respect is not spelled-out.

Generally, however, audience approval of the corporation's two new[-ish] digital channels BBC3 and BBC4 is on the up and up.

The report also reveals an already widely publicized fact: that all executive directors waived their annual bonuses - a sacrifice presumably designed to encourage the workforce which is currently restrained on a tight fiscal rein.

Despite this, however, director-general Mark Thompson managed to cream an £18k increase in total pay, which rose from £770,000 in 2005/6 to £788,000 in 2006/7.

The trust pledged to consider the wails from the BBC's commercial radio rivals about competition from Radio 1 and Radio 2 - respectively pop and 'easy listening' stations.

Notably to establish, in the run-up to finalising the two stations' remits, whether they could do more to contribute to the BBC's public purposes.

Online activity provided another occasion for celebration. Unique UK user numbers for rose from 12.3m in 2005/6 to 14.8m in 2006/7. Over the same period global unique users increased from 24.3m to 28.3m.

News was by far the most popular section on the site.

Data sourced from BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff