Accommodating the BBC in 2012
Time for another in the series responding to some of the wilder stories you may read about the BBC's 2012 planning. Today, our view of the "revelation" in a couple of Sunday papers that the people covering the Games will need somewhere to stay overnight.
Being the host nation broadcaster for the London 2012 Olympics means we'll have a huge amount of output - getting on for 3,000 hours live - and services running round the clock on TV, radio and online. We will be delivering vastly more than we did in Beijing, and it's what our audiences expect. To do that we need staff to be at the venues from very early in the morning for programmes like Breakfast, while the last of the action will finish close to midnight.
Roger Mosey on BBC plans for London 2012: "We will be delivering vastly more than we did in Beijing." Photo: Getty
If a presenter or a director or an editor isn't there when they're scheduled, we put our coverage at risk. And everyone recognises that transport is going to be one of the big challenges for London 2012, which is why we - like all organisations involved in the Games - are having to spend a lot of time working through the logistics.
Our conclusion is that we will offer accommodation as close to the venues as we can manage for key staff who would otherwise spend an hour and a half or more a day on public transport. The important thing to note here is that the 45-minute calculation for a single journey is based on normal travel times and not the longer journeys people will face during the Games. Nor does it include journeys to stations or the time it will take to get through security at Olympic sites - both of which could be significant.
The fact that BBC Sport is now based in Salford is of marginal relevance here, because we would apply the same calculations if they were still in London. And many of our Games staff are still in the capital because they work in News, at BBC London or in the Sport 2012 planning team, which has not moved north.
As for where our staff stay: our first recommendation is with family and friends if that's possible. If it's not, we'll supply somewhere. But it will be overwhelmingly in the budget category, and most of it will be student accommodation. There will be no comparison with the luxury hotels in central London where VIPs will stay or even with some of the top-range rooms that we would be entitled to from the organisers under our contract. We've turned those down. We want our staff to be safe and have the essentials they need to do the job, but we also recognise value for money is top of the agenda.
Some of you have rightly said in previous blogs that we shouldn't be defensive about the fact we will be covering the Games. Good point. But we're also not going to leave unchallenged the attempted drip, drip of unfounded criticism about the fact that we need the right staff and a proper broadcasting infrastructure to deliver what our audiences want.