American coverage of Paralympics causes controversy
Channel 4 have made an unprecedented commitment to the Paralympic games. The International Paralympic Committee can’t say the same about U.S. rights holder NBC. In contrast to the 450 hours of coverage on Channel 4, spread across multiple platforms, NBC are committed to only four highlights programmes. And not even on the main channel. The programmes will appear on their dedicated sports cable network.
Channel 4’s commitment to disability programming, and indeed the whole Paralympic games itself, could not be in greater; in contrast to the efforts of the American broadcaster.
Much of Channel 4’s coverage is fronted by disabled people including former Paralympians.
In fact their commitment to the games is bordering on the fanatical. It has been announced today that Channel 4 have sacked comedian Frankie Boyle for making some off-colour jokes on twitter about the Paralympics during the opening ceremony. In fact severed future connections is the proper way to put it as Boyle was not under contract to the station. However he did front an alternative variety show for them last week.
‘Wow, Austrian Paralympians seem a lot more able-bodied than most regular Scottish people.’ Was one of the comments he tweeted to his million followers. The real shock here is that Channel 4 are shocked that Boyle would make offensive jokes. When that is his whole act. Perhaps Channel 4 did not like one of their own making fun of a property that cost them £9 million pounds.
Whatever can be said about the Frankie Boyle decision Channel 4’s coverage of the games to date has been remarkable. They have given the Paralympics of London 2012 the respect and in depth analysis it deserves.
NBC’s decision to broadcast only four highlights shows is a stark reminder that, in some places at least, the Paralympic games does not get the respect it deserves. Does not get the respect merited by the sporting heroism on display day after day.
NBC’s coverage of the Olympic games was tape delayed in order to broadcast popular events in American prime time. The decision earned them a lot of money as the games was the most watched in history. But the decision earned the ire of fans complaining that it was an antiquated system in the era of social media. NBC Fail trended on twitter.
Looks like they’ve failed again.
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