The BBC's world news editor, Jon Williams, has moved to defend the corporation from criticism over its budget blowout in covering the Chilean miners rescue arguing the "audience valued the investment".
Newsgathering costs for reporting the dramatic San José rescue will exceed £100,000, Williams warned in an internal memo. "The financial situation is serious," he said in the original memo to staff which circulated last week.
Williams pointed to near-record viewing figures for the BBC News channel and messages of support from viewers, saying: "the audience values the investment we made".
"Yesterday, more than 3,000 of you emailed to praise the coverage – others used Twitter or our Have Your Say page to send us messages," Williams said in a post on the BBC Editors Blog. "Thank you. We don't always get it right. When we do – and when it strikes a chord – it's great to know."
In the memo sent to staff last week, revealed by the Guardian, Williams said the cost of reporting in Chile would have "consequences for other events in the coming months." November's Cancún climate summit, the Nato summit in Lisbon, and the Davos World Economic Forum are among the events to be given reduced coverage.
The BBC sent 26 people to cover the Chilean rescue, tipping its annual budget far beyond its agreed limit. "We are currently £67k beyond our agreed overspend of £50k," the memo revealed.
Williams defended the corporation's spend on covering the miners' rescue saga. "The truth is, the preparation and the resourcing of one of the biggest stories of the year is expensive," he said.
"The cost, and some of the difficult choices we now have to make about what future stories we may have to pull back from to recoup the cost, has also drawn some press comment.
Making choices and prioritising is about spending the licence fee responsibly. And it seems the audience values the investment we made".
He said that more than 8 million people viewed the BBC's online coverage of the miners' escape, Williams while news coverage on BBC1 enjoyed "significantly bigger audiences than normal".
Yesterday, when the first of the trapped miners began to be released, more than 6.8 million people followed events on the BBC's 24-hour news channel, making it the third-best day ever for viewing figures, behind two days following May's general election.
BBC's rolling news coverage of the rescue attracted nearly 3 million more viewers than Sky News, Williams pointed out.