Jul 30, 2012

Why Olympics coverage looks more like a slideshow

Wondering why some of the television news coverage of Olympic competition looks more like a slideshow? The IOC cracks down on footage used by non-rights holders.

Jason Whittaker — Former <em>Crikey</em> editor and publisher

Jason Whittaker

Former Crikey editor and publisher

Wondering why some of the television news coverage of Olympic competition looks more like a slideshow? Australian networks -- like other non-rights broadcasters around the world -- are strategically programming the scraps of footage they're allowed to play each day. Many programs over the weekend and today have resorted to using still images to illustrate their reports. Crikey has been told the International Olympic Committee polices its news access rules with force, lawyering up to tackle any broadcast which breaches the strict rules. The IOC states:
"The broadcast of Olympic Material may be used only as a part of regularly scheduled daily news programs of which the actual news element constitutes the main feature ('News Programs'). News Programs shall not be positioned or promoted as Olympic or London 2012 programs and Olympic Material cannot be used in any promotion for any News Program or any other program whatsoever."
So how much do Seven, Ten, the ABC, SBS and cable news have to play with? Just six minutes per day -- across all programs and platforms. Further:
a) Olympic Material may appear in no more than three (3) News Programs per day; and b) No more than two (2) minutes of Olympic Material may be used in any one News Program; and c) These News Programs must be separated by a period of at least three (3) hours; and d) No more than one third of any individual event may be used in any one News Programs or 30 seconds, whichever is the lesser time. However, if the duration of an individual Olympic event is less than 15 seconds the whole of the event can be shown in a News Program.
Sky News and ABC News 24 are particularly hard hit with their rolling coverage; ABC news presenters were making a point yesterday of informing viewers their hands were tied. For "all-news or all-sports networks" the rules state footage can be used:
"... in no more than six (6) news programs per day and does not exceed a total of one (1) minute in any one program. These bulletins must be separated by a period of at least two (2) hours."
Plus, networks have to sit on footage for at least three hours after the host broadcaster has shown the event. If the rights-holding network doesn't air the footage, non-rights holders must wait until the end of the broadcast day. And the footage that is aired must carry an on-screen credit to the local rights holder -- no covering up those prominent watermarks in the top of the screen. Don't like it? You can always seek "specific written agreement of the local rights holding broadcaster". We're guessing Australian broadcasters Nine and Foxtel won't be considering such requests kindly ...

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

8 thoughts on “Why Olympics coverage looks more like a slideshow

  1. Liz45

    I’m getting sick to death of the hopeless coverage and repeat ads – all the time, it’s pathetic. I’m seriously thinking of giving it all a big miss. Those who set up the rules obviously don’t give a toss for the countries whose time difference is marked. I want to see more LIVE events, not repeats of repeats that Aussies are in.

    The hideous chant of medals as the only priority is nauseating. I think it’s very sad. A typical example of the focus on winning and medals (preferably only gold) is in evidence via the result of the Males Relay Event. All the hype is Gold focused, and today it’s almost like a death the way the media is covering this. There’s no shared responsibility or thoughts to the damage this is doing to the whole team, not just the swimming team.

    I think all the participants are just wonderful for qualifying many events to be selected. I’m thrilled for them when they do well, whether they receive a medal or not. What messages are we, so called mature adults, sending to the competitors, and most importantly, young people? The recent nonsense about Leisal Jones was revolting, to say the least. Now I hope she DOES win Gold – if only to show ’em! It’s a sad indictment on all of us, particularly those close to the issue – organisers, media etc.

    It’s one race – nobody died! They’re all healthy (well, that might change, thanks to us) and life goes on! Next!

  2. John Bennetts

    I’m quite happy not to be exposed to even 6 minutes of actual Olympic events.

    If only the comments were as brief.

  3. khtagh

    My only question is, why does ABC 24 you have to fill the empty air with snippets of the whinging wing nut every 30 minutes.

  4. Liz45

    KHITAGH – Apparently the rules are so restrictive re actual footage of events – only 6 minutes per day? How damned stupid is that? I think that the organisers have lost the plot. The whole concept was/should be about the competitors and all of us engaged – but, alas, like too many other events, this is all about money, and it’s getting worse. ! I love all those young people who are competing, and wish them the best. I’m in awe of their sacrifice and commitment – and their parents too of course! It’s a damned shame! Gold, gold gold is the important thing, and money above all things is god!

    @JB – Too bad!

  5. zut alors

    Six minutes is more than adequate, two minutes would be even better. I notice that every ABC breakfast radio news bulletin has sport as the lead story – surely it’s time to grow up.

    It’s ironic that the IOC values their games so highly when they can’t even fill spectator seats in the stadium.

  6. Yclept

    I’d be happy if the greedy little men from the IOC stopped all other broadcasters from showing any of their footage on the other channels, and then, if we could only get the other broadcasters to show some decent shows for the two weeks it would be even better. Oh well, back to the DVDs and shows we recorded prior to the circus starting.

  7. beetwo77

    I think considering we pay for the vast majority of the athletes to compete through subsidies to sporting bodies, that we should have unrestricted access to olympic footage and we should demand gold because we spend so much money supporting the athletes. The sacrifices they make are insignificant compared to the sacrifices the Australian people make to get them there.

  8. rossmcg

    As an afternoon shift worker I see very little of the Olympics while I am at work and as it is my pattern to go to bed soon after getting home I will not sit up late as I prefer to get up early and not waste half a day before going to work, I have seen hardly any of the Olympic coverage. And I don’t think I have missed a thing All I need to know can be found on a radio news bulletin or in the headlines on a news outlet’s website.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details