Friday, August 31, 2012

When TV Is Disabled

Six years ago my company at the time, Narrowstep, had the privilege of launching an online channel providing the first widespread coverage of the Paralympics for the Winter Games from Torino.

Wind forward six years and things have gone seriously backwards. In the US, whose team has more than a smattering of military veterans that country loves to laud and ignore ('Born In The USA' anyone ?), the so-called 'Olympic Broadcaster' NBC is grudgingly providing a few hours of coverage - but only once the games end and on cable. They spent the best part of a billion on the Olympics.

Oh, and there are a few highlight shows on YouTube.

But the sponsors are still there - Visa, Samsung, and more controversially thanks to their role is disability assessment, Atos, alongside others such as Sainsburys, Adidas and Cadburys. And Channel 4 in the UK reportedly paid £7m for the TV rights, outbidding the BBC.

Now, I've never been a fan of Channel 4 -  a public service broadcaster that has taken television to the gutter and beyond with its dreadful reality shows - but they are excelling in their coverage of the Paralympics, with 500 hours of live television very well produced and presented.

The opening ceremony might not have been as glitzy as that of the Olympics, but it was more thought provoking. A wonderful theatrical piece that demanded a major global audience. One in six of the UK's population watched it live. Sadly, hardly anyone else did.

It's a great shame that the usual boundaries of television weren't thrown away and that Channel 4's brilliant coverage was made available globally online for all to watch and for any broadcaster to re-transmit. The IPC has seriously missed the only opportunity of this kind it will probably ever have as the Games came home to the UK for the first time.

It's depressing to see how internet TV has resulted in the walls being built up, not torn down, over the past decade.