Tuesday, 17 November 2009

FT: "Glasgow games hit by high broadcast cost"

From the Financial Times

Glasgow games hit by high broadcasting cost

By Andrew Bolger, Scotland Correspondent

Published: November 16 2009 14:17 | Last updated: November 16 2009 18:47

The high cost of broadcasting sports events has been partly blamed by organisers of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow for the need to increase their budget by almost a quarter to almost half-a-billion pounds.

The games will be broadcast in high definition and will require additional facilities to enable viewers to select multiple events using “red button” digital options.

When the games were held in Manchester in 2002 the BBC covered the total broadcasting costs. However, the BBC could not commit to this at present, the games organisers said on Monday, while the market value of the broadcasting rights had fallen. They therefore had to allow for “a potential multi-million pound deficit”.

Most of the £81m increase to the budget, taking it to £454m, will be met by the Scottish government, although Glasgow city council will contribute an extra £9m and a further £13m will be raised from commercial activities.

Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister, said the increase was challenging for the public purse but insisted the games would boost business and tourism. “The fact that 70 per cent of the games venues are already built will help guarantee no further pressure on the public purse,” he said.

But Murdo Fraser, deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said it was “appalling” that public projects exceeded their budgets in a recession.

“We are already £80m over budget and the games are still five years away. Is this going to be another disaster on the scale of the Scottish parliament?”

The cost of Holyrood grew almost 10 times between 1997 and 2003.

The games organising committee said it had increased its contingency fund from £40m to £60m, partly to cover the risks involved in converting Scotland’s national football stadium at Hampden into an athletics facility, which will require the field to be raised by 1.5m.

The committee believed 10 per cent more staff would be required during the games – 100 more than proposed in the original bid.

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