BBC Under Pressure For Taking 272 Staff To Brazil World Cup

The corporation is again taking flak for its huge resources – but sport remains one of the most popular things people like to watch.

1. BBC critics complaining it’s taking too many people to a major sports event is almost as old a tradition as the World Cup itself – so no surprised at these headlines today.

2. The corporation is taking 272 staff to Brazil for the football World Cup this summer. In the interests of scale, 736 players will be taking part in the tournament.

Martin Rickett/PA Archive/Press Association Images

But this is a reduction on the 295 people it brought to the South Africa world cup in 2010. This compares somewhat unfavourably with the 120 people who will be working there for ITV, which shares the live TV rights.

The number of journalists BBC News and BBC Sport takes to big tournaments has been steadily falling for at least the last decade.

3. The lineup of pundits for the BBC this year includes old “favourites” Alan Shearer, Alan Hansen as well as newbies Rio Ferdinand and super-sexy Thierry Henry.

Mike Stobe / Getty Images

Mmm, so French.

4. Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, said yesterday in a blog post that what with Brazil being rather large, the Beeb will need to take lots of people.


“With over 9,000 kilometres between BBC Sport’s HQ in the UK and our production teams in Brazil, it is technically very challenging to leave significant elements of the broadcast operation back in the UK.

“For example, the significant delay in communications between the two countries presents an unacceptable risk to the continuity and quality of our programmes if we attempted to control the live operation from back in the UK with commentators, cameras and presentation teams spread around Brazil.”

5. When the BBC descends on a big tournament, it doesn’t just do sport. The saintly David Beckham – pictured here being nice to typhoon survivors in the Philippines – will feature in a 90-minute documentary.

Erik De Castro / Reuters

The docu will “follow David Beckham and three of his friends exploring and experiencing the isolation of the Brazilian rainforest”. So there’s always that.

You should expect LOADS of TV news pieces on the economic recovery of Brazil and its grinding poverty too.

6. BBC News has already been out to Brazil, filming for a programme called Brazil Soccer Cities, which makes excellent use of drone cameras.

7. So is the BBC’s expense justified? This is the list of the most-watched TV programmes in the UK since 1981. Big sporting occasions tend to (but not always) come out on top in World Cup and Olympic years.

BARB / British Film Institute

UK TV watchers love sport, in short.

But with the on-going debate about the future existence of the corporation still raging, this is the kind of thing the Beeb has to be careful of. At future World Cups, a corporation relying on subscriptions and/or a reduced licence fee may not be able to choose what kind of coverage it provides.

8. So when you’re cheering on England this summer, or wallowing in their inevitable defeat, remember that there’s an army of people out there to bring you the pictures.

Stephen Pond/EMPICS Sport

And some of them are there are the licence fee payers’ expense.

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