U.K. broadcaster the BBC has recorded an overall profit of £227 million ($314.2 million) for the financial year 2020/2021, an upswing from the previous year’s £119 million loss, the organization’s annual report has revealed.
The surge is largely fuelled by the BBC’s main income earner, TV license fees collected from the public, rising from £3.52 billion to £3.75 billion. In August 2020, people over the age of 75 were required to pay for TV licenses, with few exemptions.
The corporation also reduced the salaries it paid to staff earning more than £150,000 a year by an average of 10%, including star soccer commentator Gary Lineker and BBC Radio 2 presenter Zoe Ball. However, the top 10 on-air presenters all continue to be white. Some 20% of the talent list are from ethnic minorities backgrounds, an improvement of 2% from last year, but the pay gap for minorities has increased from 3% in the last financial year to 3.3%.
George Alagiah, Mishal Husain and Naga Munchetty are among the higher paid presenters from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Because of the pause in production caused by COVID-19, the BBC’s operating costs reduced to £4.8 billion, from £5.09 billion.
The pause also affected the business of producer-distributor BBC Studios, the BBC’s largest commercial subsidiary. Overall sales were £1.25 billion, compared to 2019/20’s £1.38 million, a decline of 10%. Profit was down to £151 million from 2019/20’s £181 million, a year-on-year reduction of 17% as reduced costs partially offset lower revenues.
Returns to the BBC, from BBC Studios — primarily investment in programming — were £137 million down from 2019/20’s £276 million. However, BBC Studios said it is on track to deliver its five-year target of £1.2 billion in returns to the BBC as planned by the end of the next financial year.
Tom Fussell, interim CEO of BBC Studios, said: “2020/21 was an extremely challenging year, and I want to pay tribute to teams across the business who worked so hard to deliver this set of results. Behind the numbers we are releasing today is a superhuman, collective effort to support our customers around the world, with most of us working in difficult and dynamic circumstances to deliver the very best British content.
“We’ve kept programs on air, set standards for COVID-safe productions, scooped commissions, won awards, launched new services, strengthened our production pipeline and grown our brands,” Fussell added. “Thanks to a quicker than expected recovery in the global media industry, particularly advertising, along with some careful cost controls, we are in a very strong position to deliver on significant commercial ambition and meet the new target of £1.5 billion set by the BBC over the five years from 21/22.”
BBC chair Richard Sharp said: “I believe the strategy the BBC has in place is the right one. While there is more work to do – particularly around impartiality which the BBC has to get right – the BBC is on the right path.”
“The BBC is responding to global competition and pressure on our finances,” said BBC director general Tim Davie. “But, we know we must do much more to ensure licence fee payers across the U.K. get best value from the BBC, to maintain their trust and provide a service they cannot do without. I am absolutely focused on making the reforms we need to ensure the BBC is positioned to offer all audiences the best possible service well into the future.”