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Chris King 

BBC Worldwide profits up thanks to digital boost

BBC Worldwide announced profits of 8% amid the news that downloads of its global BBC iPlayer app have hit one million since its trial launch a year ago.

Headline profit grew to £155 million with a 5% rise in headline sales to £1.085 billion in the 12 months to 31 March this year.

Digital businesses reached 12.8% thanks to a 58% increase on the previous year's 8.1% figure, brought about by the million downloads of iPlayer globally.

Star salaries fell to £16 million from £21 million last year, while BBC Worldwide-owned UKTV, operator of entertainment channels including Dave, Alibi and Watch was revealed as the fastest growing TV channel in Britain, constituting 4.41% of viewing - an increase of 14% on a year ago.

BBC Trust chairman, Lord Patten said that the figures were a clear indication of the organisation's "on-going commitment to embrace emerging platforms" such as online, social networks, connected TV and apps.

Outlining the BBC's next set of priorities, Patten added: "[We must ensure] the BBC produces genuinely distinctive programmes, and progress has been made here, although there is more to do.

"We have also continued to push hard on value for money, encouraging the BBC to continue to drive down senior management pay and draw up a plan for living in more financially constrained times."

With the 2011/2012 financial year the penultimate year of the BBC's efficiency programme, which has saved just under £500 million against the 2008/2009 baseline, the BBC Trust has targeted a further 11% in savings to be achieved over the next five years.

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