Monday 16 November 2009

More SNP Government money for Glasgow

News today that the Commonwealth Games is set to receive an additional £39 million from the Scottish Government. Our Government is also putting in place a £20 million contingency fund. Glasgow City Council are putting in £9 million, and the Organising Committee hopes to raise £13 million through commercial activities.

Does this mean that Labour politicians will still be claiming Glasgow's being ripped off? Silence, all around. The blessed organ of impartiality and truth has a uncharacteristically mild quote from the leader of the Council noting his "disappointment" at the cost increase.

Interestingly, it seems that the root of the funding shortfall lies not with Glasgow, or the Scottish Government, but with the BBC. According to The Herald:

"the largest single factor contributing to the budget increase has been the refusal of the BBC to commit to signing up to becoming host broadcaster, creating a potential multimillion-pound deficit."

The BBC is dithering on whether they will show the Games on free to air tv. I don't recall much debate about covering Melbourne or Manchester; indeed, at the time, Manchester was trailled as being the BBC's biggest outside broadcast operation. For the Olympics, they sent more staff to Bejing than Team GB had athletes. I would expect the coverage of Delhi next year to be just as comprehensive.

The BBC's involvement in Glasgow 2014 didn't get off to the best of starts, missing the live announcement of Glasgow winning the bid, but to bargain over the price to the extent where coverage is threatened entirely is bizarre. Given the limited ability of other channels to cover such big events, the BBC is the only game in town. The contract for 2014 coverage should be today's equivalent of the service provided to previous Commonwealth Games.

Most championships in athletics, bowls, and tennis are already covered by the beeb. Coverage of F1 has improved immeasurably since the BBC won back the contract, Euro 2008 and Wimbledon in HD were utterly glorious and Match of the Day continues to be very high quality. The nearest comparison was the utterly woeful ITV coverage of English cup competition, dreadful both in presentation and in punditry.

The BBC has the expertise and the capacity to showcase Glasgow to the world in 2014. To mess the Organising Committee about only adds to complaints of Scotland being marginalised by the BBC.

No comments: