BBC criticised over Lonely Planet

<p>A Select Committee looking into the BBC&rsquo;s commercial operations said today it is &quot;highly critical&quot; of its controversial purchase of travel publisher Lonely Planet.</p><p>The committee of MPs said the broadcaster had been &quot;less than forthcoming&quot; about the Lonely Planet deal and called for the BBC to &quot;rein in&quot; its commercial operations.<br /><br />However, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee is not calling for the forced sale of the publisher as this might lead to &quot;substantial loss&quot; to the licence fee payer. <br /><br />It recommended that the chief executive of BBC Worldwide should no longer serve on the BBC executive board. It argued that his presence gives Worldwide a &quot;significant&quot; and &quot;unfair&quot; advantage over competitors.<br /><br />The committee also found that the BBC failed to meet disclosure requirements, which the Stock Exchange would need from any quoted company in its acquisition of Lonely Planet. <br /><br />The official report published today stated: &quot;To say, therefore, that the BBC has been less than forthcoming, in a timely fashion, about the Lonely Planet deal is an understatement. Limited companies, whether publicly listed or private, are obliged to follow accounting standards regarding information about acquisitions in their accounts.&quot;</p><p>The committee also recommended that the &pound;50m threshold at which a commercial transaction is referred to the BBC Trust is too high. It wants to see it lowered to &pound;30m.</p>