BBC's Lonely Planet purchase "egregious" says Commons committee

<p>A Commons select committee has branded BBC Worldwide&#39;s purchase of Lonely Planet &quot;the most egregious example&quot; of the company&#39;s expansion beyond its existing remit, suggesting that BBC Trust, which oversaw the move, acted irresponsibly in condoning it.<br /><br />The report published today by the Commons&#39; Culture, Media and Sport Committee added that the BBC&#39;s failure to disclose financial details of the deal was &quot;certainly not as transparent as it claimed to us to have been&quot;.<br /><br />The committee said: &quot;The BBC Trust claims that the decision to purchase the Lonely Planet business was made in an open and transparent way according to the four commercial criteria applicable to BBC Worldwide&rsquo;s activities. We disagree.</p><p>&quot;The purchase of Lonely Planet remains the most egregious example of the nature of BBC Worldwide&rsquo;s expansion into areas where the BBC has no, or very limited existing interests.&quot;<br /><br />The committee added that if the Trust had been &quot;a more responsible oversight body&quot; more thought would have been given to the impact of the purchase on the sector as a whole. &quot;We can only speculate as to why it did not,&quot; the committee added. <br /><br />Today&#39;s comments were focused on the BBC Trust&#39;s response to an earlier committee report, published in April, regarding the BBC&#39;s commercial activities. This set out that &quot;all commercial activity must have a clear link with core BBC programming&quot;. <br /><br />Those responses, the committee concluded, were &quot;not coherent&quot; and showed &quot;arrogance&quot; in failing to properly present its case to the government, suggesting the Trust &quot;appeared to believe they had no case to answer&quot;. The committee warned this was &quot;self-defeating in terms of the preservation of its public reputation&quot;.</p><p>Lonely Planet was bought by BBC Worldwide in October 2007. The purchase was controversial because the corporation had previously not been involved in the travel guide market.<br /><br />Last week (17th September), BBC Trust announced a series of changes to the governance of BBC Worldwide, including the removal of chief executive John Smith from the executive board and BBC director of vision Jana Bennett from the board of BBC Worldwide. </p>