Brit b'casters battle over cost of promos


Relations between Britain's two government-owned broadcasters, the BBC and Channel Four, just got a lot more testy.

The tiff escalated Tuesday after a news report on Four's flagship newscast accused the BBC of wasting public money on program launches.

The report said the BBC had spent £45,000 ($70,000) launching the show "Merlin" to media and buyers at a top London venue and had spent £118,000 ($183,000) this year launching three other shows: "Little Dorrit," "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" and "The Passion."

Four's news arm requested the figures under the Freedom of Information Act.

BBC insiders reacted with outrage, saying the cost of the launches is "par for the course" and "something you have to do" when it comes to promoting major dramas.

"We do it, ITV does it, Channel 4 does it," a senior BBC source said. "When you're launching a major international drama, you can't do it for peanuts in a church hall."

A spokesman for the BBC said the broadcaster had cut back the number of its launches to a handful a year.

Four defended the report, saying the BBC was spending "public money," while Four has to operate a commercial business. (partialdiff)