Beeb report ripped

Pol invokes Enron to describe annual account

LONDON — BBC director general Greg Dyke clashed with the government’s media select committee over the pubcaster’s annual report, released Tuesday, after a member of Parliament likened it to bankrupt U.S. energy giant Enron.

Labor politician Chris Bryant attacked Beeb chair Gavin Davies and the board of governors for producing a report that contained no criticism of the BBC and was “complacent in the extreme.”

“This feels more like an Enron annual report than a BBC annual report,” he said, accusing the pubcaster of glossing over many deficiencies, such as omitting that it had missed its target for independent producer commissions and still hadn’t made digital channels available nationwide.

However, Bryant apologized for implying that the BBC was financially corrupt.

Fare prices

The BBC spent £280 million ($449 million) on programs broadcast on digital channels in 2002-03, compared with $2.82 billion on analog programming. Total program spend was $3.8 billion.

The pubcaster increased spending on programs and services by a further $582 million last year, a 35% increase since 2000, while bringing overheads down to 13% of expenditure from 24% three years ago. Total overhead was $553 million.

BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, returned $197 million for investment in programming and other services, up 16% from last year. Sales from continuing operations, including joint ventures, rose from $1.01 billion in 2001-02 to $1.025 billion in 2002-03.

Total operating profit at the commercial arm tripled to $54.3 million, while profit after exceptional items grew 26% to $51.8 million. Company licensed 40,000 hours of programming internationally, with “The Office,” “The Weakest Link,” “Fimbles” and “The Blue Planet” among the most popular titles.

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