This morning Sophie Pascoe won her third gold medal of the Paralympics. It is a champion effort from her, and shows she is firmly established as one of our great all-time Paralympians. Overall New Zealand athletes have won 14 medals. And what have we seen of that on TV? Almost nothing. Those of us lucky enough to have Sky can see nightly highlight packages, but they are brief and that’s it. Nothing on free to air except for random news coverage.
Sky TV has the rights to the coverage, so its not totally fair to blame the free to air channels. Having said that there is no shortage of brilliant human interest stories if they wanted to put the resources into being at the finish line or poolside.
Clare has already put out a statement expressing her concern about the lack of coverage. I really think that New Zealand is missing the boat here. Almost everyone I know in London has gone to an event and loved it. It screens 16 hours a day on Channel Four and is rating through the roof. In Australia they are getting 100 hours of live coverage across the event, and Australian politicians are attending in support.
I should note that there has also been some controversyin the US about lack of coverage.
There is a story underlying this about media ownership in New Zealand of course, and the rights deals that dominate coverage of sport, but at any level more could be done. No one is asking for the same coverage as the Olympics, but just some recognition of a great global event.
Sky have said
we just can’t be in the business of making programming decisions that don’t have some commercial sense to them
This says it all, but also shows a lack of imagination. I have said before that I think one of the best programmes on TV is Attitude, the disabilities issues show that screens on a Sunday morning. The stories are inspirational, interesting and well told. It could easily screen in prime time on a Sunday night. With the right promotion and marketing Sky could have made a whole lot more of the Paralympics.
It is such a shame. New Zealand is doing well, and the courage and talent of the athletes on show is remarkable and inspirational. Such a missed opportunity and such a lack of respect for our athletes.