BBC Trust to keep an eye on Lonely Planet

The BBC Trust has said that it will keep the long-term future of BBC Worldwide’s investment in Lonely Planet under review as part of a rethink about the role of the state-owned broadcaster’s commercial arm.

A report released this week provided “a series of changes to the future remit” for BBC Worldwide. The broadcaster paid £89.9m for a 75% in the guide book brand in October 2007.

The BBC’s annual report released this July revealed that Lonely Planet racked up losses of £9.6m during the first eighteen months in BBC Worldwide ownership.

While the Trust’s report does not make a value judgment on the economics of the deal, it says; “[We] would not expect to consider a commercial deal of the scale and nature of the Lonely Planet acquisition in future.

“The Trust will want to ensure that BBC Worldwide’s plans for Lonely Planet secure the best value for licence fee payers and will keep its long-term future under review.”

BBC Worldwide has always considered the Lonely Planet deal a long-term investment, and was prepared to make losses during the first few years of ownership.

However, under the changes announced today, future investment in Lonely Planet  may now be different because “BBC Worldwide must continue to meet its dividend obligations to the BBC within these new financing parameters”.

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