The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is the principal public service broadcaster in the United Kingdom, with its headquarters at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff. Its main responsibility is to provide public service broadcasting in the United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. The BBC is an autonomous public service broadcaster that operates under a Royal Charter. Within the United Kingdom its work is funded principally by an annual television licence fee, which is charged to all United Kingdom households, companies and organisations using any type of equipment to record and/or receive live television broadcasts; the level of the fee is set annually by the British Government and agreed by Parliament.
Outside the UK, the BBC World Service has provided services by direct broadcasting and re-transmission contracts by sound radio since the inauguration of the BBC Empire Service in December 1932, and more recently by television and online. Though sharing some of the facilities of the domestic services, particularly for news and current affairs output, the World Service has a separate Managing Director, and its operating costs have historically been funded mainly by direct grants from the UK government. These grants were determined independently of the domestic licence fee. A recent spending review has announced plans for the funding for the world service to be drawn from the domestic licence fee.
The Corporation’s ‘guaranteed’ income from the licence fee and the World Service grants are supplemented by profits from commercial operations through a wholly owned subsidiary, BBC Worldwide Ltd. The company’s activities include programme- and format-sales, magazines including Radio Times and book publishing. The BBC also earns additional income from selling certain programme-making services through BBC Studios and Post Production Ltd., formerly BBC Resources Ltd, another wholly owned trading subsidiary of the corporation.