Licence fee payers are footing the bill for a series of BBC music festivals headlined by US mega-star Taylor Swift.
BBC Biggest Weekend concerts are being held in four cities across the UK over the Bank Holiday weekend, with more than 175,000 tickets on sale to the public at £18 each.
The events were initially marketed by the corporation as an unofficial replacement for the Glastonbury Festival, which is not on this year.
Yesterday’s festival in Swansea featured a headline performance by Taylor Swift, one of the world’s most in-demand pop stars.
British singer Rita Ora also performed a headline set. A post on her Instagram page yesterday showed her next to private jet on the tarmac at Cardiff airport, 42 miles from the festival site at Singleton Park, Swansea.
The BBC would not confirm how it paid for the headliners’ concert fees and travel costs, which are expected to run into to the millions.
A spokesman said: ‘The BBC funds the production and the broadcast of The Biggest Weekend as part of its commitment to bringing live music to as wide an audience as possible.’
In previous years the BBC has hosted similar Big Weekend concerts in various cities across the country, which it has admitted are almost entirely funded by the licence fee.
Ticket holders also paid an administration fee which covers the cost of stewards, security, barriers and welfare services.
This year up to 60 per cent of tickets have been reserved for those living near the festival sites.
Last night critics questioned how the BBC had managed to pay for a total of eight concerts featuring performances from some of the world’s biggest stars.
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen said: ‘Promoting and lining the pockets of super-rich pop stars seems a complete misuse of licence fee payers’ money, but then the BBC do have £4billion of taxpayers’ money to fritter away each year.’
As well as Swansea, there have also been Biggest Weekend events in Coventry, Belfast andPerth which have been running since Friday.
Despite huge publicity across BBC TV and radio, the events have not completely sold out. Last night there were still tickets available for today’s concert in Coventry, which is due to feature performances from the BBC Concert Orchestra and violinist Nigel Kennedy. The performances themselves have received blanket coverage across BBC TV and radio, particularly on Radio 1.
This year, as with the previous Big Weekend festivals, the BBC has sent an army of personnel to provide live coverage of the events. In 2011 the corporation was criticised after it emerged it had paid for 1,663 nights in hotels for staff and contractors.