Parfitt defends BBC’s Glasto staff levels

By | Published on Friday 10 June 2011


BBC radio man Andy Parfitt has defended the BBC’s decision to send over 250 staff to Glastonbury each year, amid the customary criticism from some quarters that the Corporation’s coverage of the music festival is too vast, too expensive and basically a junket for BBC twonks.

The BBC’s coverage of Glasto is immense, of course, with content pumped out on Radios 1, 1Xtra, 2, 4 and 6music, more on the BBC 2, 3 and 4 telly channels, not to mention red button and online coverage. Some say that that’s far too much coverage for one event, though others – Parfitt included – would point out an estimated sixteen million people tuned in last year, and that many mud-adverse music fans now look forward to a weekend in front of the telly watching the festival as much as the Glasto faithful look forward to attending the event itself.

Assuming you respect the value of that output, Parfitt would then like you to know that 250+ people is not excessive to make it all happen.

Writing on the BBC blog this week, he wrote: “As a former sound engineer, I’m going to tell you about the main Pyramid Stage sound for the radio, TV and on-demand. We’re talking about delivering some of the world’s greatest artists (this year there’s U2, Coldplay and Beyoncé) to your TV, radio and computer in super quality. I can tell you that mixing the hundreds of sound feeds does not happen on mobile disco equipment – Sound II is the BBC’s big digital mobile music studio – a truck crammed with the highest possible quality mixing desk, monitoring and FX systems. Inside, our very best sound engineers work on a shift system to deliver great sound day and night; there are stage technicians who lay the cables and set the mics; and production assistants who log, time, quality check and upload hundreds of tracks so that the BBC radio stations can play out live music in their Glastonbury specials”.

He continued: “This is only one stage and only the sound – across a sprawling site which is bigger than Bath. There’s also the John Peel Stage, West Holts Stage, The Park Stage, Other Stage and BBC Introducing Stage with each one having dedicated technical points. And there are dozens more stages, tents and areas where music and comedy acts are doing their thing – so getting around the site with equipment and artists can be a real challenge. This is certainly no ‘junket’. There’s no BBC corporate hospitality and any BBC executives attending will also be working. Every member of staff onsite has a clear and accountable role – working hard and extremely long hours to offer unparalleled coverage. The people who work at the festival are some of the most dedicated, talented hard-working and professional crew I have come across in my career – and I have been around a long time!”

So take that nay-sayers.