Content chief will invest in more startups

A BBC Worldwide topper has defended its expansionist strategy despite a recent report from inhouse regulator the BBC Trust calling for Worldwide to rein in its activities.

Wayne Garvie, Worldwide’s managing director of content and production, said that much of the recent criticism leveled at the organization was “driven by us being successful.” He said it would still invest in startup shingles if the right opportunities arose.

Garvie stressed that of the £460 million ($767 million) invested in the U.K. indie sector in recent years, Worldwide was responsible for a mere 2%.

“Baby Cow (the U.K. shingle launched by Steve Coogan) was going to be bought by a foreign company until we came along,” Garvie said, speaking to the Broadcasting Press Guild on Wednesday.

“When we invest in a production company, our aim isn’t to build it up in order to sell in five years’ time but to think, What do we need to achieve?” he said.

Worldwide has stakes in eight production companies including Left Bank Films and Television, which produces “Wallander” alongside Sweden’s Yellow Bird.

Garvie singled out the U.S., India and Spain as territories where Worldwide intends to grow further but acknowledged that it was now too late to beef up business in Spain, Italy and Holland.

Garvie rejected accusations, often made by private media companies, that Worldwide had been too entrepreneurial.

“I think we’ve been opportunistic and dynamic, rather than aggressive,” he said. “Some people don’t like the fact that we’ve been as successful as we have been, but in the old days, we were called half-wits for not being successful enough.”

As evidence that Worldwide’s growth is continuing, Garvie announced a two-year, first-look distribution deal with Nutopia, the shingle launched last year by former Discovery Channel chief Jane Root that has offices in London and Washington, D.C.

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