Channel 4 and NBC under fire over Paralympics TV coverage

Aug 31, 2012

No live coverage in the United States and not enough action in the UK, say critics

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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."

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Agree there should not have been adverts in paralympic opening ceremony - and they should not cut the action - let's watch the games as they sould be viewed!

"Some people think that North America always leads on everything..." Who thinks this exactly? Its certainly never been true with social issues.They were making black people sit at the back of the bus during my lifetime & a frighteningly large proportion of the American working class still believe that some things,including homelessness & mental illness are all your own fault.The US is a puritan nation.This is why you can't ask where the toilet is in a private home or a public building.It has to be 'bathroom' or 'rest room' The very notion of a toilet is embarrassing to them.The same goes for physical disability.The average American finds the sight of a disabled person excrutiatingly embarrassing,which explains NBC's coverage.I've spent a lot of time in the US over the past 20 years & to be frank some of their attitudes to certain subjects are almost 19th century.It doesn't surprise me anymore but it still makes me shake my head quite often.I've heard opinions offered in public places,in loud voices on subjects like race,sex,politics,religion & behaviour that could see you banned by the management or physically assaulted in the UK.We are divided by much more than spelling!

We are so disappointed with the coverage of the paralympics on channel 4, too much studio time cutting into every event. The presenters are naff, getting names wrong and making plenty off gaffs, Far too many adverts also cutting into events, how can you justify watching the start of an event for it too bit cut short for adverts. After the great coverage on BBC for the Olympics this is a total let down.

Maybe the BBC outbid themselves with the dire Jubilee coverage in their best sticky back plastic style?

I am sick of adverts and no sport. You have let these athletes down and you have let the British public down. Channel 4 you are a disgrace I hope you crash and burn, you don't deserve to survive this. My heart goes out to athletes. After watching BBC coverage they must have been so excited. What a dissapointment. Jp

Yes, there is too much boring talk from C4 commentators. However it is a channel that relies on advertising, so they have to stick ads in when they can, and there wasn't too many during the opening ceremony. NBC are pretty useless by all accounts, but there is very little coverage in the U.S. newspapers, so I doubt if many Americans would watch anyway. They have a low attention span.

Why is there no coverage of the tennis, rowing, sailing, goal ball, shooting, archery, powerlifting etc. Not even heard a mention through all of the C4 main channel coverage? Surely these could have been delegated to another channel for a fee by C4? Unless someone can advise where these events are being shown on tv?

C4's coverage is dire, but it is disgraceful that the BBC did not bid for the coverage: we'll not see the Paralympics in the UK for the next 50 or even 100 years, and they should have the same wall-to-wall coverage as the Olympics.

As for NBC's coverage: where's the surprise?

If you have Sky then you can watch on 450 - 452 (High Definition) or 453 - 455 (Standard Definition). No adverts. No cutting to the studio.