Thursday, July 02, 2009

Taxpayers Alliance reckon that you could do Glastonbury with three blokes and a steadicam

There's been some rumbling that the BBC somehow sent too many people to cover Glastonbury, because, well, 400 people sounds like a large number of people, doesn't it?

The Telegraph had fun with the story, but it seems to have first surfaced in the Standard last Friday when someone called Ben Bailey pretended that he didn't work in the media, and thus couldn't be expected to understand how many people you'd need to feed three separate TV networks, press red, and various TV channels large numbers of hours of coverage from a number of stages in a site the size of a small town.

Indeed, rather than go "they're taking 400 people for audio, video, production, lighting, rigging, running, liaison, production, generating power, playing out, transmission, editorial oversight on a massively complicated live event - wow, what a bloody brilliant feat of organisation" he got someone from the Taxpayer's Alliance to think about the number.

The Taxpayer's Alliance - whose only media experience seems to be from turning up in parts of it with space to fill - well, the reckon that 400 seems a lot, right:

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "I think the number of staff sent to Glastonbury does smack of it being more of a junket for BBC staff and presenters rather than a serious exercise. There's no way they would need 400 people to record and broadcast an event like Glastonbury.

"I'm afraid we've seen it in the past. At the Olympics there were more BBC staff than British athletes.

"We are seeing a trend here of BBC over-manning. When people combine that with the revelations of expenses last week, it shows the BBC is ready for some cuts."

"There's no way they would need 400 people" - how many, then, Matthew? Six? Two? Thirteen? Forty-seventy-twelve? If those 400 people were there on a junket, who was putting out the hours of broadcasting? Did Elliott even realise the event was being broadcast live?

Bailey decides to chip in, even if it risks making him look a bit of an idiot:
The broadcasts from the festival included Gabby Logan's show on BBC Radio 5 Live - a station known for its focus on news and sport rather than music.

This, presumably, in much the same way that the Standard is known for the desperate men stood outside tube stations trying to give the bloody things away at ten at night rather than the quality of its reporting.

Bailey, presumably, doesn't think that a major cultural event magicking the biggest town in the South West aside from Bristol from thin air isn't a news story; nor, indeed, can he ever have heard Five Live - a station whose news remit includes entertainment stories and whose film reviews are its most popular podcast.

James P - to whom thanks for the story - reckons there might be a need for more BBC staff:
If anything they should've employed more people, specifically someone to sit next to Jo Whiley in the six months before and after the event, poking her in the ribs and saying "Shhh - It's not *that* interesting" every tenth Glastonbury mention.

Personally, I think the Taxpayer's Alliance is overstaffed. They surely don't need any people at all to do what they do; all you need is a bran tub and a box of cut-up Daily Mail editorials and journalists could assemble their responses on the TA's behalf.