Tada! Fanfare and pomp and Roger Wright the director of the Proms (or rather officially Controller, R3 & Director BBC Proms) presented yesterday the new season of the Proms.
Unfortunately the jubilation for the announcement is clouded by the booking fees that they will charge anyone prudent enough to book in advance. Surely if the well subsidised and much accused for being expensive and exclusive can afford not to charge a booking fee, the Proms and the Royal Albert Hall charge 2% of the transaction amount plus £1 per ticket up to a maximum of £10! This exorbitant fee makes the Royal Albert Hall a touch cheaper than the hideously priced Ticketmaster. For instance three tickets for The Phantom of the Opera would cost £159 with Proms pricing while the Ticketmaster price is a more robbing £163.50. Of course the main difference between an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical and the Proms is one of them is subsidised by tax called euphemistically a licence fee…it seems the Proms are a licence for the Royal Albert Hall to make a killing on fees (as they do for the rest of the year). As one of the biggest block bookers of the Hall couldn’t they come up with a better arrangement on the booking fees? If most classical and opera venues can offer the same service for under £3 how dare they ask for £12?
It is impossible to find out how much putting up the Proms costs, due to the BBC’s hiding behind Sphinx like statements to freedom of information requests. But it is estimated to cost around £10million*
It is hugely disappointing to allow the host venue to capitalise at such a degree on the back of the Proms. Everyone would have been more understanding if the ticket prices had gone up a bit to cover the administration costs. To their credit the RAH responded with a couple of tweets, attributing their high fees to their lack of public subsidy. As for the Proms twitter folk they just think taking a pound off the standard booking fees of the RAH is enough. Dear readers what do you think, is it appropriate a public body like the BBC, using public tax money to put up this festival to gouge us with such fees?
*Just the broadcast of the festival cost £3.7m and they employed 145 staff (2008 season numbers, published in 2010 NAO report)
BBC’s Annual report 2011/12 http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/annualreport/pdf/bbc_ar_online_2010_11.pdf
National Audit Office looking at spending for Proms: http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/0910/bbc_coverage_of_major_events.aspx
Overgrown path blog on the Proms cost: http://www.overgrownpath.com/2009/08/what-price-bbc-proms.html