BBC spending criticised by Audit Office

The head of the National Audit Office (NAO) was yesterday highly critical of BBC spending after the corporation paid £250,000 for a purpose-built studio with a view of the Vienna skyline as part of its coverage of the 2008 European Championship, for which no home nation's football team had qualified. The BBC spent £8.68m on covering the event, to which it sent 142 of its own staff.

The tournament was one of six events analysed in a report published yesterday. The NAO found that coverage of Radio 1's Big Weekend cost £888,000, 5 per cent over budget. Staff and talent costs for the event, which was attended by 271 BBC employees, came in at £138,000 per day. This was even more than the £90,000 per day for the Glastonbury Festival coverage.

"Given the current economic conditions, the BBC has not done enough to demonstrate that its coverage provides the best possible value for money," said Amyas Morse, the head of the NAO.

The report found that the BBC spent £15.57m covering the Beijing Olympics, and sent 491 staff. It also spent £4.22m covering Wimbledon 2008 with 358 staff, £1.74m on Glastonbury (277 staff), and £3.71m on the Proms (145 staff).