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Last Updated: Monday, 23 January 2006, 13:23 GMT
BBC defends 36m expenses costs
Mark Thompson at BBC Television Centre
Director General Mark Thompson claimed 1.75 for a phone call
The BBC has defended the 36m expense bill used to pay for air fares and hotels last year, saying it was a reflection of programme making costs.

It said journalists and contributors travelled "extensively" in order to produce nearly 400,000 hours of radio and television programming each year.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal 19.5m was spent on flights and 16m on hotels.

Director general Mark Thompson claimed over 21,000 last year.

The sum included 10,500 on hospitality and 4,000 on overnight accommodation.

And, although he earns more than 500,000 each year, Mr Thompson claimed back 1.75 for a telephone call and 8.75 he had spent on a meal.

'Competitive rates'

In a statement, the BBC said: "In the course of producing nearly 400,000 hours of programming on radio and television each year, programme makers, contributors and journalists have to travel extensively across the UK and across the world to make programmes.

"This is part of the cost of making programmes for any broadcaster. To ensure value for money, the BBC has stringent guidelines on the use of hotels and flights and our buying power allows us to gain competitive rates both at home and abroad.

"Programme-making accounts for the overwhelming majority of hotel and travel costs in an organisation such as the BBC with output as diverse as Doctor Who, which is made in Cardiff and on location, and news coverage of events such as Hurricane Katrina."

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