Government clears Freshfields of conflict on BBC Worldwide

As the BBC’s vice chairman Anthony Salz considers the fate of the corporation’s commercial arm BBC Worldwide, it has emerged that Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, of which Salz is co-senior partner, has recently been instructed by BBC Worldwide in Germany.

BBC Worldwide is expected to sell off or break up its worldwide division in one of the biggest media disposals of the decade, although the official line from the broadcaster is that the review is still at an early stage.

It is understood that Salz, who was appointed as vice chairman just last month, was asked about Freshfields’ work for the BBC as part of the recruitment process. Sources close to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport say that Salz cleared the perceived conflict with the Government.

BBC secretary Simon Milner said: “With all our candidates there is an appropriate discussion on conflicts of interest.” There is no suggestion whatsoever of any impropriety on Salz’s part.

Freshfields partner Thomas Tschentscher advised BBC Worldwide on copyright and broadband issues last year. The magic circle firm has one of Germany’s best media practices, but it would be virtually impossible for any partner to advise on the worldwide disposal.