BBC Worldwide sale ruled out in favour of profit push

LONDON - The BBC is set to rule out a sale of BBC Worldwide, but will instead set new targets to double the amount of profit the division generates for the corporation.

According to reports, the BBC is set to rule out a sale when a committee looking at the commercial division's future meets on November 11.

John Smith, chief operating officer of the BBC, has been overseeing the review into the future of BBC Worldwide, with wide reports that the corporation was considering a total sell-off of the unit.

But an outright sale has become increasingly unlikely, with Smith talking down the possibility in October. BBC director-general Mark Thompson has also long denied that the sale of BBC Worldwide was a given.

According to a report in the Independent on Sunday, the BBC now believes it can boost profits at BBC Worldwide.

However, The Business reports that BBC Worldwide could face a "digital tax" from the government in exchange for allowing the BBC to keep hold of its commercial arm. This would let the BBC continue to expand its digital services, a move the government sees as vital to help with the uptake of digital television.

BBC Worldwide owns 10 channels including UKTV stations and BBC America, 26 magazines, and the licensing rights to characters such as the Teletubbies. Last year, it had revenues of £657m and generated £141m profit, which was ploughed back into the corporation.

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