Not for purposes of journalism, art or literature but the number of (BBC) private limted companies

Philp Searle made this Freedom of Information request to British Broadcasting Corporation

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Dear British Broadcasting Corporation,

The BBC has admitted that some celebrities have avoided paying income tax under schemes (recommended by the BBC itself under Public scrutiny by Patricia Hodge (now retired) public accounts committee in parliament) prior to the 2016 Charter renewal. In response to that the BBC disclosed that those who earn ‘above’ a (large) amount should withheld from public knowledge (privacy of presenters) in its accounts. Many of these BBC personalities (and Presenters) have private Limited companies wholly employed by the BBC with very little ‘employment’ elsewhere. Employed as a form of tax evasion of some UK taxes. Not unique in public companies, but the BBC are also both public employer and part commercial operator and runs many private limited companies which benefit from BBC ‘in-house’ operations. Many of which are often only formed to reduce tax liability of BBC employees. This is clear as ruled by HMRC who effectively now know of this practice (not only at the BBC) but also in other public institutions as a malpractice.

The fact that the City of London ‘inside share dealing’ has been made illegal is comparable. It is not allowed to have ‘insider dealing’ such as that the BBC has in its its many ‘in-house’- ‘production companies’ that claim to be commercial and are ‘not entirely’, as all are based on the TV license fee (ultimately) and not the commercial sector primarily. Many are TV ‘spin off’ into BBC ‘magazine productions’ are not often disclosed in its public accounts as being BBC ‘Limited companies’.

The reason I ask:
I noted recently that the BBC (under a previous FOI request dated below) stated the following (in reply to link below on BBC pensions arrangements), was in answer to a question on BBC pensions. The reply (by FOI) was this and why they could not reveal all BBC pension arrangements:

(Not included) In a FOI request to the BBC about the number of staff pensions schemes:
Please note that, as set out in section 6(1)(b)(ii) of the FOI Act, our subsidiaries (including BBC Studios & Post Production Ltd, UKTV, BBC Global News Ltd (formerly World News Ltd) and BBC Worldwide Ltd), as well as the charities BBC Media Action (formerly BBC World Service Trust) and BBC Children in Need, are not subject to the Act.

I don’t want to repeat the above request but it is a good example of how much money gets offloaded into the generous BBC pension schemes as PAYE (which is as reported to HMRC) and that which does not get reported under BBC (PPC) arrangements that have both elements employed (which is most top earners at the BBC), plus they have advantage of the BBC creating the tax avoidance schemes.

The advantages of PPC (for those that work at the BBC include: ‘guaranteed employment’ for life at the BBC as a member of staff or private company (or both). The BBC has admitted this as such to the HMRC (who are highly critical of these practices). The BBC have admitted that this will no longer apply to celebrities who will now have to ‘pay tax’ on BBC earnings. A good example was a former Radio 1 DJ claiming he ran a commercial ‘taxi’ company whilst working for the BBC (name withheld as has now left the BBC) but others that only work three days a week for the BBC include Lord Hall himself (as he is also on the board of the Post Office) and Alan Yentob who worked for years at the BBC (three days a week) whilst working for his own private company for many years.

* You can re-apply on a ‘swing door’ basis the same job on a higher BBC pay scale. (On public record this should, you ask).

So my question is this for FOI: (only one question need be answered).
How many Limited companies wholly owned by the BBC are there in total (Charter years 2008 to 2016)? In reply: please include ‘overseas’ companies that are wholly owned by the BBC.

All Limited companies are required to be registered at Companies house, so you do not need to identify which companies (or individual) involved, just that they exist.

The BBC’s ‘journalistic integrity’, the value of its “art’, or the depth of its ‘literature’ are not in question (so should not be disclaimed in this reply under FOI). I am asking for disclosure of wholly owned BBC limited companies held on record in the UK (and overseas territories linked to BBC subsidiaries). This is public knowledge, not commercially sensitive as I am not asking for the sums involved or who heads the operations. There is no reason to not disclose this information under FOI.

The same questions are asked of any large public corporation and are usually subject to shareholder inspection and UK taxation requirements. The BBC is not exempt from that declaration. Its not confidential information, it is in the public interest to declare tax at source.

Yours faithfully,

Philip Searle

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

Dear P Searle

Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as detailed in your email below. Your request was received on 31st January 2017. We will deal with your request as promptly as possible, and at the latest within 20 working days. If you have any queries about your request, please contact us at the address below.

The reference number for your request is RFI20170224

Kind regards

The Information Policy & Compliance Team

BBC Freedom of Information
BC2 B6, Broadcast Centre
201 Wood Lane
London W12 7TP
Email: [BBC request email]

Tel: 020 8008 2882

show quoted sections

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

1 Attachment

Dear Philip Searle,


Please find attached the response to your request for information,
reference RFI20170224.



Yours sincerely,

The Information Policy and Compliance Team


Workplace & Information Rights, BBC Legal

BC2A4, Broadcast Centre

201 Wood Lane

London W12 7TP, UK


Website: [1]

Email: [2]mailto:[BBC request email]

Tel: 020 8008 2882

Fax: 020 8008 2398





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