BBC to spend £1m to cover Beijing Olympics

The BBC is to send 150 staff to cover the Beijing Olympics at a cost of £1 million, Matthew Beard of the London Evening Standard reports.

This compares to the 380 BBC staff sent to Athens to work on the 2004 Olympics. No other British broadcasters are transmitting live coverage of the Games, although Sky, ITV and Channel 4 are all sending news coverage staff.

“We are putting on 2,750 hours of Olympic coverage,” a BBC spokesman said. “We are broadcasting on radio, on TV, online and on interactive. It is the only way people will view the Olympics.”

Critics said the decision to send the broadcasters, producers, technicians and engineers to China this year raised serious questions about the use of resources.

The £1 million production comes as the BBC is axing 2,500 posts and making 1,800 staff redundant to fill the gap left by a licence fee settlement that is smaller than expected.

John Whittingdale, the chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, said the plan undermined the commitment to efficiency.

“The BBC always sends a huge number of journalists to such events and it raises the issue of efficiency,” Whittingdale told the Daily Telegraph.

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