Changing the perspective 

28 January 2010 tbs.pm/1123

BBC spent £250,000 for better view of Vienna at Euro 2008

It has to be said that the general headline-grabbing tone of this Guardian article is edging dangerously close to the kind of tabloid generalisations that are the normal reserve of newspapers like the Daily Mail, even though there may be sensible if rather more mundane questions buried away in the small print of such revelations.

The most important fact of this report is perhaps contained in the last sentence of the third paragraph, to quote: “The total cost of the BBC’s coverage of Euro 2008, to which it sent 142 staff, was £8.68m, 1% under budget” (my added emphasis), which leads into some important points in relation to the BBC, its funding and how contracts were set up.

Some of this relates to the previous disposal of BBC Resources, notably the “minimum amount of business clause” which “will incur a financial penalty if the minimum expenditure threshold across the BBC is not met” – make of that what you will, but it strongly suggests that the BBC has to spend a minimum budget on these events.

Plus as TV licence fee-payers, we expect the BBC to provide the best possible quality coverage of major sporting events, therefore if it is possible to improve the general quality of presentation without exceeding the total budget allocated for the event, shouldn’t the BBC have the right to do this, regardless of other contractual obligations?

It’s not as if that £250,000 was spent on champagne and canapes.

Disregard the fact that there was “no formal planning procedure”; that’s just bureaucracy wanting a safety net just in case it went horribly wrong. But it didn’t, and apart from past issues relating to the disposal of BBC assets this article is just attempting to make a mountain out of the proverbial molehill.