BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the broadcaster, increased revenues by 9.5% to £1 billion ($1.6 billion) in the 12 months to March 31, 2009.

However, operating profits declined 12.8% to £102.6 million ($167.5 million), which BBC Worldwide said was partly down to planned investment. The impact of exceptional charges took profit before interest and tax to £85.7 million ($139.9 million).

John Smith, chief executive of BBC Worldwide, said in a statement that the figures reflected the continued strength of the business amid a severe downturn impacting the media and entertainment industry.

"In spite of volatile conditions and heavy investment in several parts of the business, we remain encouraged by the growth prospects and performance of our core operations and brands around the world," he said.

The Audio & Music part of the business - which includes record licensing, radio program sales and music publishing - increased sales from £26.7 million ($43.6 million) to £27.2 million ($44.4 million) year-on-year, while profits were down from £6 million ($9.8 million) to £2.4 million ($3.9 million).

However, the 2008 profit was inflated by the release of a provision against potential litigation; underlying profit was down from £2.5 million ($4.1 million) in 2007-2008 to £1.5 million ($2.5 million) in 2008-2009, reflecting the tough retail environment and some restructuring.