Entertainment, Hotels|

BBC Hotel Bill Rises to £2 million

BBC SalfordThe hotel bill for the BBC rose from £1.56 million to £2.68 million in the 12 months to April 2012. This includes the £924,607 spent on hotels in Salford, where it moved several of its programmes over the period. Just £55,000 was spent on hotels in Salford the year before. The bill includes rooms for staff and guests featured on all of its programmes.

This rise in Salford hotel costs follows the BBC’s Radio 5 Live, Children’s department and BBC Sport moving to the new media centre last year. BBC Breakfast moved to the centre as well in April, and its first show aired from the new location on April 10. The BBC says the move is part of its plan to broadcast 50% of its programmes outside of London by 2016, and the switch has contributed to its hotel bill.

The BBC released expenditure figures for hotel costs in Manchester, Salford, Glasgow and Belfast after the Daily Mail filed a Freedom of Information request. The £2.68 million figure covers rooms that the corporation’s booking agents reserved for contractors, programme guests and contractors. The bill in Salford isn’t the only one that saw an increase either, with Manchester’s bill rising from £690,000 to £1 million. However, while increases were seen in Manchester and Salford, the hotel bill in Glasgow fell from £618,000 to £582,000 and Belfast dropped from £200,000 to £175,000.

A BBC spokesman said that staff are required to work from different offices across the UK on a regular basis. This is for attending meetings or to meet production needs. There will always be related costs like this. The period that these figures represent cover the time when their new offices in Salford were being developed. Therefore, they include accommodation costs for the team in charge of fitting out technology and for technical proving. The staff from departments that moved were initially operating between two sites – broadcasting from the London base and getting ready for the new Salford base.

Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce chief economist Brian Sloan says the figures aren’t surprising when taking the number of people moving to the area into consideration. He said looking at just hotel bills isn’t a fair comparison when looking at how public money is used. Other costs – wages in the north and people employed in London – should be taken into account as well.

Sloan added that they are excited to have a media city in Salford, as it has positively impacted the region and is creating jobs in the Greater Manchester area. The move is helping distribute public funds throughout the nation, which is also positive.

However, the National Audit Office says that most of the cost-cutting performance at the BBC hasn’t been consistent or coordinated. Its recent decision to hire McKinsey, an expensive management consulting firm, to review news operations came at a time of widespread budget cuts. It’s also emerged that the BBC Trust spent £190,000 for Egon Zehnder to help find a new director general.

Meanwhile, the broadcasting group has sold its Television Centre – which was its first purpose-built site for production and was home to shows like Blue Peter and Fawlty Towers. Property developers Stanhope plc, which is known for its involvement in the Tate Modern project, have agreed to buy it for £200 million.

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