The BBC has spent £120,000 redecorating its new London headquarters just six months after they opened. The sixth and seventh floors were refurbished to look like sets for flagship BBC programmes, including soap opera EastEnders, after staff complained that the previous design lacked character and was not sufficiently inspirational.
The Daily Mail has revealed that the refurbishment, which took place in December last year, cost £60,000 per floor – money that was taken from the BBC’s general fund which is put together from the licence fee – a television tax that all British households with televisions are forced to pay.
The plans for a redesign were revealed last month after a staff member complained to the BBC’s in-house magazine Aerial about the unnecessary changes.
Emma Saunders of the arts and entertainment department wrote: “Can I ask why some of the carpets have been replaced in NBH [New Broadcasting House] only 18 months after we moved into the new building?
“I think many of us would rather have a modest pay rise than be dazzled by a new garish carpet as we step out of the lift.”
Claire Dresser, chief advisor for BBC Television, responded: “Following Television’s move to NBH last year, there was strong feedback from staff that the sixth and seventh floors did not feel like creative spaces and lacked character.
“In response, Danny Cohen [Director of BBC Television] asked for volunteers from Television staff to join a committee to come up with plans – at a reasonable cost – to make the spaces more creative and vibrant. The changes you are now seeing with TV branding, images and props are the ideas this volunteer group from all levels of Television have devised and agreed to.”
She concluded: “We want to make our space feel inspiring and creative – a home for BBC Television that reflects our ambitions as the very best broadcaster and producer in the world.”
A BBC spokesman said that costs were kept to “an absolute minimum by recycling and reusing fixtures, fittings and furniture whenever possible”.
The new London headquarters were opened by the Queen just six months ago, and cost £1 billion to build.
But BBC licence fee payers i.e. millions of British households, would rather the money had not gone to pay-rises or ‘creative spaces’ for the BBC, but rather, back in their pockets. Each year families and households are forced to part with £145.50 for the benefit of having BBC channels on their television, even if they do not watch them.
The news comes at a time when the BBC is bemoaning budget cuts imposed upon it by government, yet it has come to light in recent weeks that the organisation has managed to spend £120,000 on ‘creative spaces’ and over £600,000 buying newspapers.