BBC spent £200,000 covering rescue of Chilean miners
The Guardian is reporting that the BBC has spent a whopping £200, 000 covering the rescue of the Chilean miners in a reporting effort that involved as many as 40 members of staff.
So expensive has the story proved that BBC’s ability to report from the Cancun climate talks has been compromised. Although tweeters have been praising its wall to wall coverage.
The story quotes a memo (below) that says the cost of covering the Chile story was £100,000, but according to the Guardian quoting two BBC sources the real cost is double that.
Without being a huge cynic while it is a great heart warming story why does any network need to have so many people when content should be shared and pooled?
The BBC is a great organisation, but it does dig its own hole with such waste. This all comes in the week that it is slimming down its well padded and well compensated executive team with the departure of its top marketer and Mark Byford the deputy director general.
I heard a bunch of reports on the BBC on TV and radio and none of it was particularly different. Lots of pictures of the mine, lots of graphics and lots of space filling that ended with hours of miners waving and cheering. Seriously how much is there to say?
It was a great story — but it was not a story that demanded such a huge resource. It seems the BBC default is to send everyone, which is kind of indicated in the memo now that it is managing its forced scaleback following the overspend.
The BBC apparently sent 30 people to cover climate talks in Copenhagen, but 40 to Chile and now it only has enough cash to send a few people to cover the talks in Cancun.
Interestingly since I tweeted this post some people came straight back and said that it is money well spent and praised its wall to wall coverage. Fair enough.
BBC memo in full
From: Jon Williams-NEWS
Sent: 04 October 2010 16:59
Subject: Chile and the Newsg overspend
We had a very constructive planning meeting this afternoon during which we set out the costs and scale of ambition for the Chilean mine rescue – and some of the consequences for other events in the coming months.
Tomorrow I’m meeting XXXX and XXXX to prepare a paper for newsboard. The financial situation is serious: we are currently £67k beyond our agreed overspend of £500k – newsgathering’s costs for Chile will exceed £100,000.
This afternoon, in discussion with the programmes and the newsroom, we agreed:
* We will scale back the editor deployments to the G20 – so either Robert [Peston] or Nick [Robinson] (or Pol Corr) not both
* We’ll reduce the Lisbon Nato summit – so no Washington send and much reduced ambition
* Cancun climate summit would not be a live “event” – one single correspondent
* We should investigate world news contracting out the resourcing of Davos – so no newsg organisation
* The Oscars will be a breakfast event – newsgathering will be bureau and ENG based.
This is not easy – I recognise that some work has already gone into the planning of some of these, and I apologise to those of you who’ve already invested time and effort in doing so. However, it’s right that we remain flexible and we need to act on the decisions taken today. We cannot afford mission creep later in the year. It marks an important moment in terms of agreeing a way forward between input and output. Am grateful to XXXX and XXXXXXX who helped prepare the options. J