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Published on September 4th, 2013 | by Drew Boynton

Smith in BBC Olympic Ticket Controversy?

Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith’s name has been mentioned in connection with a mini-controversy brewing with the BBC. Tim Walker of The Telegraph is reporting that the BBC has come under scrutiny for giving sporting event tickets as gifts to TV stars, sports personalities, and business executives as thanks for exclusive interviews and personal access.

Matt Smith carries the Olympic Torch

The Telegraph states:

“…passes to the Olympics, the FA Cup final, and Wimbledon – worth thousands of pounds – were handed out to, among others, Doctor Who‘s Matt Smith….The BBC gave out a total of 344 tickets for top sporting events last year…”

The Eleventh Doctor got tickets to the Wimbledon finals. Other famous names specifically pointed out in The Telegraph’s story as recipients of these gifts include US movie star Bette Midler and Ireland rugby player Brian O’Driscoll.

Smith (whose name is surely being bandied about because of Doctor Who‘s status), Midler, and the others really did nothing wrong or illegal. The controversy is whether or not a public entity such as the BBC should be giving away tickets worth thousands of pounds as gifts. To be fair, it appears the Olympics tickets are the main source of the controversy, as those were the ones the BBC apparently paid for with license fee money. A total of 74 tickets to Olympics events, at a cost of 5000+ pounds, were given to executives and others.

A BBC spokesman replied:

“At London 2012, a small amount of the tickets the BBC purchased were used for business purposes, such as hosting other international broadcasters, as is standard practice.”

So, Kasterborites, do you think the publicly-owned BBC should be giving out sports tickets to TV stars and others? Is the BBC feeling pressure to compete with the privately-owned perks-happy Hollywood studios, or did the BBC see this as a harmless way to thank or impress some high-profile people?


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About the Author


Drew has been a fan of Doctor Who ever since he flipped through the channels late one night and saw a girl blowing up an army of funny robot men with nothing but a slingshot and some old coins. He currently lives somewhere in the woods of Missouri with his beautiful wife Barbara.

8 Responses to Smith in BBC Olympic Ticket Controversy?

  1. avatar Simon Mills says:

    The only question is, is the BBC providing value for money for the license fee payers? I’m sure other businesses and media companies do exactly the same sort of thing, so why shouldn’t the BBC? It’s only a controversy if ‘they’ stir it up and make it into one as far as I’m concerned

  2. It’s a great way for them to foster a relationship with those persons whom they gave tickets too. Maybe they will do something in kind for BBC later on? I am not familiar with the format of the BBC beyond that it is owned by the public and not a private corporation. Because of that, I don’t know what kind of rules there are regarding such expenses. I am not bothered by it, but again I’m not British (sadly).

  3. avatar Bradondo says:

    It must be a slow news day…or maybe it’s “invent a controversy” week. Every corporation everywhere gives gifts and perks to its employees, and tickets to sporting events are a veery common item. Many corporations give season tickets for local teams to executives or maintain private “skyboxes” at stadiums for employees’ and V.I.P. guests’ use. Why is this any different? Because it’s the olympics? Who cares? Maybe they should be focussing more on how the International Olympic Comitee refuses to stand up for human rights and punishes athletes for expressing their opinions in any way. That’s a genuine concern. Some stars getting free tickets is not.

  4. avatar Neu 75 says:

    The Torygraph’s BBC obsession continues…

  5. avatar TonyS says:

    My initial response to this was “and?”

  6. avatar Ranger says:

    I have to agree to all the comments here. This is a non-story. Of course the BBC do this, every business does it to ensure loyalty, encourage business and to say thank you. For all it is owned by the public, the BBC is a business. All I can say is, lucky Matt to get Wimbledon finals tickets!

  7. avatar Chris Wyatt says:

    Agreed with all above. Of course they should be able to develop their relationships through in-kind gifting. How is this a problem? In fact, it’s a pretty solid strategy that the BBC would be wise to continue.

  8. avatar Gasglow says:

    The ticket given to Matt was part of the allocation the BBC get as broadcaster. They didn’t pay for it so this is not even a non-story.

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