Report: BBC spent $320,000 covering rescue of Chilean miners

October 14th, 2010 by Chris Hogg Leave a reply »

The story of the Chilean miners trapped in a copper and gold mine for 69 days has captured the attention and support of everyone. Journalists flocked into Chile to cover the dramatic rescue, and images and live video were broadcast around the world.

So what did it cost a news organization to send an entourage of journalists to Chile to cover the rescue? According to the Guardian, the bill was $320,000 USD (£200,000) to send 40 BBC staff to Chile. 

The Guardian says a leaked memo confirms that, as BBC world news editor, Jon Williams, sent a memo to fellow executives indicating the cost of reporting the rescue will exceed $160,000 USD (£100,000).

The bill was so steep, in fact, The Guardian reports the BBC is left without enough money to cover climate talks in Cancun, Mexico.

“We had a very constructive planning meeting this afternoon during which we set out the costs and scale of ambition for the Chilean mine rescue – and some of the consequences for other events in the coming months,” writes Williams. “Tomorrow I’m meeting [name omitted by Guardian] and [name omitted by Guardian] to prepare a paper for newsboard. The financial situation is serious: we are currently £67k beyond our agreed overspend of £500k – newsgathering’s costs for Chile will exceed £100,000.”

Williams notes the over-spend in Chile will mean the BBC will scale back editor deployments to the G20; reduced presence at the Lisbon Nato summit and “much reduced ambition”; one single correspondent will be sent to the Cancun climate summit and no live reporting will be available; and the BBC will look to outsource coverage of Davos;

“I apologise to those of you who’ve already invested time and effort in doing so,” Williams writes. “However, it’s right that we remain flexible and we need to act on the decisions taken today. We cannot afford mission creep later in the year. It marks an important moment in terms of agreeing a way forward between input and output.”

The full memo from Williams can be read here.

- Cross-posted on Future of Media

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