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BBC criticized for ‘Merlin’ party

Excessive hype deemed lavish in tough times

“Merlin,” the Brit fantasy TV skein, has been doing magical biz on the global stage, but closer to home it’s landed the BBC in another tight spot.

Channel 4 news discovered the “Merlin” launch party had set the Beeb back a hefty $70,000. In these tight times, entertaining on this scale was considered a tad lavish for a license-fee funded state broadcaster — especially since the BBCstarted its round of pink-slipping long before the downturn kicked in.

However, the Beeb hit back, defending its right to hype.

“We choose the programs we are going to launch at parties very carefully,” BBC’s chief operating officer Caroline Thomson told Channel 4 News. “Yes it is a lot of money, and we have to be very careful how we spend that money, but sometimes it does cost a lot of money to do these things properly.”

But once bitten, twice shy. Don’t expect the BBC to hold a bash to celebrate the second season of “Merlin,” which sold to more than 110 territories, including the U.S., where NBC bought the program.

Simply put, the Beeb doesn’t own the rights. Those belong to Fremantle Media Enterprises. So next shindig, they pick up the tab.

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