Sunday, June 13, 2010

Glastonbury 2010: News of the World re-runs last year's faux Glasto outrage

Oh, for crying out bloody loud, I thought we'd sorted this out last year? But, no, the NOTW is fuming again that it actually involves people to cover several stages for three different media live from Glastonbury:

THE bloated BBC is again sending an army of hundreds of staff to cover Glastonbury - defying orders to cut costs.

Orders from who? Where there orders to reduce the budget for Glastonbury coverage? Isn't it an assumption that just because the number of people involved is roughly the same, that the costs haven't been reduced - for example, they might be using fewer vehicles, or being told only to work a certain number of hours rather than go into overtime. Or freelance staff might be getting fewer hours.
Around 400 Beeb workers are off to the festival at taxpayers' expense, the same as last year.

Actually, many of the workers aren't "Beeb workers", they're freelancers, and - unless there's the odd reporter from the World Service, they're not working at taxpayer's expense, they're licence-fee funded. And, in fact, with BBC Worldwide selling coverage overseas, a potion of those numbers would be paid for by commercial activities.
And that's after lavish BBC spending on the event in 2009 - an estimated £2MILLION - drew stinging criticism.

Yes, it did, but only from idiots and vested interests desperate to try and portray the event as a beano.
But despite vowing to control costs in the wake of the recession, BBC chief Mark Thompson has astonishingly signed off a fresh Glasto spend-fest.

Simply because you're taking costs out of an organisation as a whole doesn't mean you cut back everything. Even George Osborne, the first Chancellor to be incapable of telling a SpeakAndSpell from a calculator, understands that you might decide one area of spending is worth maintaining at previous levels while making cuts elsewhere.

For example, simply not having to pay Jonathan Ross next year more than covers the entire costs of Glastonbury.
The news will be music to the ears of the legion of presenters, technicians, producers and - of course - executives who can pack their bags for Somerset.

"Great! We're going to have to work seventeen hour days up to our arses in mud! Hoorah!"
But critics accused the BBC of being "woefully out of touch" by spending lavishly when Britain is sunk in debt.

Really? There aren't a few people who might say 'given that times are quite tough, it's wonderful that we can all share in one of this nation's great cultural events simply by switching on the TV or radio - and at no extra cost to ourselves.' Or did you not ask?

Still, who's such a fool as to give the NOTW an on-the-record quote which, while pleasing to James Murdoch, will out them as being someone who doesn't really grasp the subjects they're talking about?
Tory MP Philip Davies said: "The BBC is the same over-bloated organisation it's always been. It's bizarre it is not chasing the same cutbacks as everyone else."

The poor people of Shipley. They must have felt that choosing a bloke who used to work for Asda as their MP would mean he'd at least have a grasp of how organisations work. But it appears not.

Look, Philip, let's take you back to when you were at Asda. You remember when there'd be the big signs up saying 'Cut prices'? That didn't mean that everything was reduced, did it? Some things were made to cost less, and other things would cost more. Because what it was all about was balancing prices across the whole.

It's the same with the BBC. Just because the cost of one piece of programming costs a little more (and, frankly, there's not a shred of proof that's the case here) doesn't mean the BBC isn't making savings elsewhere.

I wonder if Philip Davies sits at home fuming "the BBC says it's making cuts, and yet the weather forecast still covers exactly the same area as it did before? They really should only be forecasting for 75% of the country to save money.

Wait until he finds out that the BBC are spending money on the World Cup - when they didn't spend a penny on it last year.

Davies, of course, knows profligacy when it sees it. In the last Parliament, he claimed more in expenses than any of his fellow Bradford-based MPs. And, oddly, I can't find him being angry at the 2.33% pay rise MPs got last year - but perhaps there's no reason for MPs to make "the same cutbacks as everyone else" that I've missed.

The News Of The World then offers another odd comparison:
The four-day festival at the end of the month is one of the biggest events of the BBC year, with coverage across TV, radio, and a dedicated website. The Beeb sent nearly as many staff to last year's festival as to the Olympics - despite TV viewing figures averaging just 800,000.

Actually, the BBC only sent 74 people to cover the Olympics. Unless the NOTW is thinking of Beijing Olympics, where there were 473 members of staff there. I'm a little lost as to what point is being made here, unless the News Of The World actually thinks that covering Glastonbury and an Olympics are somehow identical in their scope? I can film my cats playing in the long grass on my own - surely we just need to send one bloke with a Flip, right? And maybe Zane Lowe?
Matthew Elliott, head of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: "The BBC continues to spend as if there's no tomorrow. By all means cover the event, but the number of people sent is clearly excessive."

Really? It's clearly excessive, is it, Matthew? Care to explain how? Do you have evidence that supports this, or did you merely go 'ooh, that's a lot of people, it must be too many'?

Obviously, if you can point to teams of camera crew who turn up and then disappear for three days, without filming anything, that would be scandalous. Or if there are five producers overseeing every sequence shot, that might be worth raging about. It might be you feel that having red-button coverage of the stages is an extravagance then say so - although since it will be getting filmed anyway, the marginal cost of making this available to licence fee payers seems to be good, rather than bad, use of the money. But at least point to something you actually believe is excessive, rather than stand there blinking.

I suspect the News Of The World will run the story again next year, and probably even in 2012, whether Glasto happens or not. See you in twelve months, then.