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Enjoying The Festival Beeb Feast

02:01 PM Thursday 9/29/11 | |

The BBC is under fire for what it shells out to either create or broadcast live music events.

Staging Radio One’s Big Weekend in Carlisle this year meant shelling out for more than 1,600 nights of accommodation in local hotels, according to figures obtained by The Sunday Telegraph.

  • Lady Gaga

    Radio 1's Big Weekend, Carlisle, UK
    May 15, 2011

    (AP Photo / PA)

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The publicly funded corporation apparently sent 210 staff to work on the two-day event, with many of them staying in the area up to two weeks in advance. The accommodation in hotels, bed-and-breakfasts and self-catering apartments was said to cost up to £140 per person per night.

A couple of years ago sister paper The Daily Telegraph claimed The Beeb spent about £1.5 million ($2.3 million U.S.) sending 407 reporters, technicians and other workers to Glastonbury, although its coverage was limited due to disputes with acts over how much of their sets it could broadcast.

“When the BBC is pleading poverty it’s difficult to justify these hotel bills as value for money. License fee payers expect their cash to be spent on quality programming, not hotel bills for half of the BBC,” said Robert Oxley, a campaign manager for the TaxPayers Alliance.

A BBC spokesman said it’s not that simple.

“The figure is made up over a three-week period and includes the contractors and BBC staff that it took to build a large-scale live music event for 40,000 people on an airfield in Carlisle, which was then broadcast on radio, television, and online to millions of people,” the spokesman said of the bill for 1,663 hotel room nights.

In July the BBC allegedly sent 250 staff – 10 times as many as its main news rival – to cover an event marking one year until the start of the London 2012 Olympics.

The most recent criticism regarding festival coverage came a month before the BBC is to unveil its “Deliver Quality First,” a cost-cutting programme it has prepared for the BBC Trust.

It’s expected to cut 20 percent of its budget as a result of last year’s license fee settlement with the government.

It’s said to include up to 1,500 possible job cuts across BBC News.


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