Channel 4 and NBC under fire over Paralympics TV coverage
No live coverage in the United States and not enough action in the UK, say critics
TV COVERAGE of the Paralympics in Britain and America is under fire after disability groups criticised US broadcaster NBC for failing to show any of the action live and Channel 4 fell foul of critics in the UK.
NBC, which was also attacked for its Olympic coverage, denied its viewers the chance to watch an opening ceremony for the second time this summer and will show only four hour-long highlight programmes on its TV network. A week after the Paralympics finish, it will air a 90-minute special on the event.
Although there are highlights packages on the NBC YouTube channel there is anger in some quarters and several online petitions have been started.
One has been launched by Damon Herota of Florida. He told the Daily Mail: "It's a sign of disrespect, especially to those military veterans who are competing. Attitudes are supposed to have changed since the days of Vietnam, when veterans were ignored. What message does this send?"
The story has also been picked up in America, where Sports Illustrated noted: "This year's Paralympics are expected to draw their largest ever live television audience - except in the United States, where events will receive only minimal coverage and won't be screened as they happen."
The US broadcaster's approach is in "sharp contrast" to that of other nations, said The Daily Telegraph.
Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee, told the paper: "Some people think that North America always lead on everything, and on this they don't. It's about time they caught up."
However, the coverage on Channel 4 has not won many admirers so far. "There's a sense that everyone is on their best behaviour, being extra careful not to offend," moaned Guardian TV critic Sam Wollaston. "Come on, man, this is a major international sporting event, not Blue bloody Peter."
He also railed against the "amateurism" of the coverage. "At the moment there's way too much studio chat... and not enough actual sport. Less talk, more action, please."
Channel 4 came under fire for running too many ad breaks during the opening ceremony. Although it recorded its best viewing figures for 11 years, the Daily Mail reported that the channel was "hit with a tide of criticism about its coverage of the Games".
"Viewers are furious that the broadcaster kept cutting away from the action to go to commercial breaks during Wednesday night's ceremony and as the sporting events kicked off yesterday," it explained.
And the BBC appeared to be regretting its decision not to buy the rights to the Games. Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker, who also fronted much of the broadcaster's Olympic coverage, tweeted: "Lots asking why BBC TV's not covering Paralympics? Strong bid was put in but organisers chose Channel 4. Shame for Beeb but wish C4 well."
One 'industry source' went further, telling The Guardian: "From a remit and prominence point of view it has to be viewed as one of the biggest mistakes of all time for the BBC."