Business

BBC to sell £70m EastEnders studios to bolster flagging finances

The BBC has hung a for-sale sign above the studio behind EastEnders as the broadcaster struggles with falling royalty income.

The company plans to divest BBC Studios Elstree and lease the premises back from a new owner so the long-running British soap opera can continue to film on the site.

As well as hosting EastEnders, the studio has been used for BBC events such as Children in Need programs and UK election coverage. Elstree is reportedly worth around £70million.

Real estate agent Lambert Smith Hampton was hired to source potential suitors, according to an ad from The Telegraph, which described it as a “unique opportunity to acquire an iconic piece of production history and write the next chapter.”

The broadcaster is open to examining “a number of possible disposal structures”, according to the listing.

The sale is part of an effort by Tim Davie, the BBC’s chief executive officer, to boost the organisation’s commercial revenues amid the ongoing erosion of its £3.2 billion annual royalties income.

The effort helped the channel’s commercial arm – BBC Studios – to a record £226million in profits last year. However, some of his plans met with internal resistance.

An attempt to capitalize on the podcast boom by commercializing Radio 4 programming for listeners abroad has met with backlash from some BBC staff, who believe it could threaten the organisation’s public service values.

The decision to divest Elstree comes as the TV and film production sector struggles with a severe shortage of studio space caused by an insatiable demand for content from US streaming companies.

Last year, Netflix announced a long-term lease with Longcross Studios, the Surrey production facility behind James Bond’s Skyfall and Star Wars.

Netflix already has exclusive access to most of Shepperton Studios in west London, while Disney leases most of Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire.

BBC executives are understood to see the studio sale as an opportunity to cut operating costs and reduce the carbon footprint.

A BBC spokesman said: “As part of our ongoing review of the BBC’s property portfolio, we are considering selling Elstree and leasing back part of it for further EastEnders production.

“There are long-term commitments for the continued use of Elstree, for the parts that support EastEnders.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2022/08/06/bbc-sell-70m-eastenders-studios-bolster-flagging-finances/ BBC to sell £70m EastEnders studios to bolster flagging finances

Russell Falcon

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