BBC comes under fire as it sells Lonely Planet at an £80m loss

THE BBC came under criticism from its own trustees yesterday after it agreed to sell its travel guide business Lonely Planet at an £80m loss.

The broadcaster’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, said it had reached a deal with US media company NC2, controlled by tobacco billionaire Brad Kelley, to sell Lonely Planet. The series, popular amongst tourists and backpackers, will sell for £51.5m as the BBC focuses on its own brands.

The purchase represents a substantial loss for the BBC, which paid £130.2m for Lonely Planet in two instalments in 2007 and 2011.

The BBC Trust called it a “significant financial loss” and said that it had launched a review into the deal.

“Given the significant financial loss to Worldwide, we have asked the BBC Executive to commission a review of lessons learnt and report to the Trust with its findings,” the BBC Trust’s vice-chairwoman Diane Coyle said.

The deal comes as a result of the BBC’s commercial review last year, which resulted in strategies to focus on BBC brands and programmes.