BBC is Net Contributor to UK Economy, Claims Report

21 July 2008

LONDON: A 196-page report commissioned by the BBC Trust (the BBC's governing body) claims that the "economic impact" returned to the British nation by the broadcaster equates to twice the £3.4 billion ($6.79bn; €4.29bn) licence fee wrung annually from Britons owning a TV set. 

The report, penned by PriceWaterhouseCoopers,  also calculates that a further £3.1bn is contributed by the corporation's commercial activities.

The report, snappily titled The Economic Impact of the BBC on the UK Creative and Broadcasting Sector, claims that the BBC redistributes nearly £5bn of its total £6.5bn income to the nation's creative industry.

There appear to be defensive overtones to the report – hardly surprising given that it was commissioned after a barrage of criticism from the BBC's commercial rivals, the Murdoch media, and other members of Britain's rightist press.

Among the report's mea non culpa findings: "For the most part, the value of the BBC is additive."

It also asserts: "Commercially funded broadcasters would not gain significantly from a BBC funded by commercial means, although a smaller, or commercially-funded BBC would mean lower investment in the production sector."

The beancounters were also asked by the Trust to identify any negative impacts, but were able to uncover only "limited evidence of these".

PwC also concluded: "The stable funding of the BBC, through a long-term licence fee, is a privilege for the BBC but also a vital source of stability for the whole UK broadcasting industry."

The Trust, however, conceded that in meeting the corporation's public service broadcasting obligations there could be "inherent potential for the BBC to create negative economic impacts within the creative and broadcasting sector".

The trustees also expressed their hope that the PwC tome would "provide a base of evidence for the Trust on a number of decisions and policy debates".

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