The BBC programmed some 150 hours more factual on its flagship channel BBC1 across 2010/11, according to the Corporation’s annual report, while its commercial arm BBC Worldwide (BBCWW) posted headline profits of £160.2m (US$254m).
According to official figures from the Corporation, BBC1 aired 2,302 hours of factual in 2010/11, compared with 2,153 in 2009/10. Terrestrial sister channel BBC2 aired 1,786 – flat on last year’s 1,785 – while digital channel BBC4 also increased its factual output, from 915 hours to 1,081.
Only digital channel BBC3 posted a decrease, airing 1,403 hours, down from 1,541 in 2009/10.
In the genre of Music and Arts, classified separately from factual, BBC4 posted a marked increase, airing 1,425 hours in 2010/11, compared with 1,267 the year prior. BBC2 also posted an increase, from 317 to 353, while BBC1 and BBC3 were more or less flat.
And with religion programming, BBC2 increased its hours from 37 to 50, while BBC1 and BBC4 were more or less flat.
In a statement, BBC director-general Mark Thompson highlighted the broadcaster’s factual efforts across the year for particular praise. “It was an outstanding year for science programs,” he said. “Brian Cox introduced broad audiences to the wonders both of the solar system and universe on BBC2, while Bang Goes the Theory brought serious science to a mass viewership on BBC1.”
The numbers came as BBCWW posted increased revenues and profits for 2010/11. The firm recorded revenue of £884 million, up 14.7% on 2009/10′s £770 million; with headline sales of £1.16 billion – up 7.8% on £1.07 billion the year prior.
This led to a pre-tax profit of £188 million, up 68% on £112 million; and a headline profit of £160.2 million, up 10.3% on last year’s £145.2 million. Total returns to the BBC increased by 8.6% to £181.9 million.
BBCWW CEO John Smith said the company had continued its strategy of investing in content. “In addition to the direct investments we made in programming commissioned by the BBC and other UK broadcasters, we also commissioned twice as much programming for our international channels and made local versions of our formats for customers,” he added.
“These included Dancing with the Stars – the international version of Strictly Come Dancing – in France for the first time, for TF1; and Top Gear for History in the USA. Both have already been recommissioned.”
BBCWW chief financial officer Philip Vincent added: “We have delivered revenue and profit growth in our established businesses, and shown ourselves to be well positioned for the recent advertising upturn. We have also managed our digital businesses towards breakeven, while maintaining investment in this key area.”