THE BBC spent nearly £200,000 a week on hotels last year.
Sending highly paid presenters and production crews to cover events such as Glastonbury music festival and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow cost the corporation £10.3million in room fees, the equivalent of £28,000 a night.
With the corporation’s annual hotel bill having risen to the highest level for the past five years a public spending watchdog has questioned whether this is an appropriate use of licence fee payers’ money.
The number of staff needing to book in for overnight stays in Manchester has soared since flagship programmes such as BBC Breakfast were transferred from London to Media City in Salford in 2011.
The public broadcaster has also faced criticism for sending “staff on a jolly” to cover Glastonbury, with 300 workers at the festival last June supporting a team of 17 presenters, including Jo Whiley, Chris Evans and Fearne Cotton.
This was a larger deployment than to the World Cup in Brazil, for which 272 employees spent a month in South America, at a time when the corporation announced cuts in key departments to save £800 million a year.
New figures for the annual hotel bill, obtained in a Freedom of Information request, revealed £10,315,695 was spent last year on hotels.
The figure does not include any extras such as meals.
It is nearly £1million more than £9,378,214 for bookings in 2013 and almost £2million more than the £8,487,300 spent in 2012, the year in which London hosted the Olympic Games.
A previous FOI request for BBC hotel expenses last year found £632, £525 and £482-a-night rooms were booked for staff attending industry conferences outside the UK.
Andy Silvester, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “The BBC is a national organisation so some travel is inevitable but the cost has to be kept under control.
“The £145-a-year TV tax is a heavy burden on hard-pressed families and it should be spent by BBC officials as if the money was their own.
“We must find ways to drive down the bill yet further – that means booking staff into the Premier Inn instead of the Hilton and trying to have more trips start and end on the same day.”
The BBC said: “Strict guidelines have seen the average cost per hotel booking cut by more than 20 per cent in the past five years.”