Glastonbury 2014: BBC sending more staff to music festival than World Cup

With 300 staff lined up, the BBC plans to broadcast 250 hours of the festival coverage across TV, radio and online

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The Independent Culture

The BBC is sending 300 staff to cover Glastonbury festival, which is 28 more than the staff in Brazil covering the World Cup.

As festival goers get their wellies ready for a muddy weekend, BBC gets its staff lined up to not miss a thing.

The astonishing number of employees will descend on the traditional four-day music festival to provide a total of 250 hours of TV and radio coverage, the same as last year, when the BBC was criticised for giving the festival too much airtime.

Headliners for this year’s event are Arcade Fire, Kasabian and Metallica, with acts such as Robert Plant and Dolly Parton also among those set to play.

The coverage will be spread across all BBC channels – including the location edition of The One Show, Radio One, Radio Two and iPlayer.

A team of 17 presenters will be spotted around the tents hosting the event, including Jo Whiley, Fearne Cotton, Lauren Laverne, Steve Lamacq, Pete Tong, Cerys Matthews and Mark Radcliffe, with Chris Evans and Alex Jones hosting the Glasto edition of The One Show.

John O’Connell, director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘The BBC is already sending 272 people to Brazil for the World Cup, and sending another 300 to Glastonbury does seem like overkill. People will be watching the coverage closely – it had better be worth the expense.’

Last year the BBC faced similar criticism after spending £2million on the festival coverage. There were further complaints over the quality of broadcasts too, with fans branding presenters ‘annoying’ and accusing them of filling time with ‘boring chit chat’.

Corporation music chief Bob Shennan confirmed 300 staff were being lined up for the weekend, outstripping the 272 in Brazil at the moment. But he justified the numbers by saying that the staff levels were in line with those for the 2013 event and needed for the “demanding workload".

However, by comparison, this year’s World Cup coverage has been reduced in numbers from the 295 who staffed the South Africa event in 2010.

The criticism comes at a time when the Corporation is under pressure to make budget cuts, but Mr Shennan says that each member of staff has a “clear and accountable role” to bring hours of coverage from the Somerset festival.

Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson criticises so much coverage too after dismissing the festival as “the most bourgeois thing on the planet”. He says that despite sending “thousands” of people to cover Glastonbury, BBC simply “can’t be arsed to turn up to Sonisphere or Download with a camper can and a hand-held”.