| 11.1°C Belfast

Commercial arm of BBC announces profits hike

BBC Worldwide, the broadcaster's commercial arm, hit record annual profits of £145.2m as programmes including Doctor Who proved hugely popular around the world last year.

The business yesterday announced operating profits had risen 36.5% in the 12 months to the end of March. Revenues were up 7% to £1.07bn.

This was driven by the success of programmes including Top Gear, David Attenborough's Life, Planet Earth and Being Erica. The launch episode of the most recent Doctor Who series brought in BBC America's largest ever audience at 1.2 million viewers.

John Smith, chief executive of Worldwide, said: "As well as developing into a diversified global media business and extending the international visibility of the BBC brand, the company is delivering a strong financial performance." The performance has led Mr Smith's remuneration package to be increased by almost half to £823,000.

Despite the tough trading conditions in 2009, sales grew at six of Worldwide's seven operating divisions and it increased its dividend payment to the BBC to £73.6m from £68.4m.

Mr Smith has plans to boost Worldwide's overseas sales to as much as two-thirds in 2012 from 46% in 2006. Last year they rose from 51.3% to 54.6%.

Other popular shows overseas included Dancing with the Stars, which entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the most successful reality television format. The 10th series of the show was made by Worldwide's production arm in Los Angeles for ABC, whose finale was watched by 18 million people. The Robbie Williams Electric Proms concert was broadcast to over 250 cinemas across 23 countries.

The group,has 41 channels which brings BBC content to over 300 million homes in over 100 countries all over the world.