No room for women in Nine’s Olympic coverage?

pkbannan Roar Rookie

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    So you want to be a commentator or presenter for this year’s broadcast of the Games of the XXX Olympiad? Then you’ll need a few things if you hope to make it to London.

    Working for the official broadcaster Channel Nine is a must, as is a track record as a seasoned commentator. But if you really want to improve your chances, you’ll be needing a penis.

    That, at any rate, is the lesson I’ve learned from looking at Channel Nine’s presenting team.

    The only woman fit enough to join the team is Leila McKinnon, wife of Channel Nine CEO David Gyngell. McKinnon will join Ken Sutcliffe, Cameron Williams, Karl Stefanovic, Eddie McGuire and Mark Nicholas as part of the official team.

    While Nine will have a select few women commentators in London covering certain sports, these women only get a guernsey because they are deemed to be ‘experts’ in their respective sports. Their role will be more about being behind the microphone, providing analysis, rather than in front of the camera presenting one of the major global sporting events in the world.

    Why this insistence on women who have expert knowledge? What special expertise do Karl Stefanovic or Eddie McGuire have when it comes to the Olympics? Sure Eddie knows AFL, but last time I checked, Australian Rules football wasn’t an Olympic sport.

    Of course, Channel Nine doesn’t see anything wrong with this situation. Nine boss Gyngell claimed it was all about merit, saying the network was not ‘mired in blokey back-slappery’ and declaring there is ‘no glass ceiling’. This, from a station where the board is dominated by males. Me thinks the man protests a little too much.

    Claiming the decision is based solely on merit is strange, especially since Australia is not short on highly qualified female journalists and presenters. For example, Alicia Loxley, Nine’s Olympics correspondent and reporter, has dominated the screens in Sydney and Melbourne and has proved to be a great success story.

    ACA’s Tracy Grimshaw, Sydney sports reporter Roz Kelly and Georgie Gardner from Today would be equally at home with the Olympic broadcast duties.

    In some respects, the absence of women from Nine’s Olympic coverage team isn’t surprising. It’s Australian as AFL. It wasn’t until 1982 when “Football’s First Lady” Caroline Wilson began covering sport, specialising in Australian Rules – almost a century after the league was founded.

    Ever since, Wilson has been a trailblazer for women in the sports department. This is not just in football coverage, but for all major sports, with Jo Griggs fronting Summer of Tennis coverage and Liz Ellis the leader in Channel Ten’s broadcast of the trans-Tasman ANZ Championship.

    Even, then, Wilson hasn’t had it easy, copping flak from the likes of Nine’s Sam Newman who infamously claimed ‘there is no place in sport for women’.

    Melbourne journalist and former Melbourne Football Club deputy chairperson, Beverly O’Connor, argues “more women are needed in football to change the culture, but women over 35 were turning away from the game”. Too many are turning away, from not just male audience dominated sports, but too few are being considered worthy of presenting roles in major sporting events.

    Perhaps the ‘lack of interest’ can be explained by constant recycling of male presenters fronting sports coverage each year, be it AFL, NRL, golf, cricket or the biggest sporting event in the world, the Olympic Games.

    What’s the solution? One place to start is the ABC’s well received submission to the 2006 Senate Inquiry into Women in Sport and Recreation in Australia. The submission by the ABC outlined the need to re-establish ABC Television’s development role in sourcing and training women’s sports broadcasters through the establishment of a number of broadcasting cadetships.

    Historically, the ABC has played a key role in the development and promotion of women as sports broadcasters. Broadcasters such as Karen Tighe, Simone Thurtell, Tracey Holmes and Debbie Spillane are evidence of the ABC’s commitment to place women in key on-screen roles..

    It’s an example that Nine could learn from.

    Fifty six years after Nine covered the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, Nine’s decision to fill its commentary team with predominately men shows that those running the network are stuck in the 1950s.

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    The Crowd Says (14)

    • Roar Guru

      April 28th 2012 @ 8:23am
      Rabbitz said | April 28th 2012 @ 8:23am | ! Report

      Meh.

      The “personalities” you listed are clearly just the studio “talking heads” who will anchor Nines poor collection of mainstream only coverage, which will consist of very little live sport coverage, and lots of repeats of a narrow selection of sports.

      I am pretty sure that regardless of the talking heads they select, whether the have a ding-dong or a woo-woo, that the coverage will be poor and mostly consist of ads. Why would you bother with FTA coverage?

      There are plenty of streamed sources as well as PayTV.

      The streamed sources have the added bonus of NOT having the parochial, ocker, piss-poor, unknowledgable local commentators…

      • April 29th 2012 @ 1:46am
        Football United said | April 29th 2012 @ 1:46am | ! Report

        THIS!

    • April 28th 2012 @ 9:39am
      JiMMM said | April 28th 2012 @ 9:39am | ! Report

      I do agree with what you have said there, but as someone who has foxtel, I’m not going to watch Channel Nine’s coverage. the simple fact is that Nine has a track record of butchering any sports that they cover so I’m not going tobother and really I don’t care who they have.

      If you want to be a serious sports reporter nowadays you have to work for foxsports, everyone else is just a generalist journo

      • May 9th 2012 @ 12:24am
        Big V said | May 9th 2012 @ 12:24am | ! Report

        Still won’t forget nine’s atrocious coverage of Vancouver 2010

    • April 28th 2012 @ 9:51am
      BigAl said | April 28th 2012 @ 9:51am | ! Report

      Knowledge and interest in most Olympic sports is minimal across the general public – ‘user friendly’ faces such as Karl Stefanovic and Eddie McGuire would be used to draw (and retain) more people to the telecast – they ARE Ch9’s highest profile people after all, and will contribute valuable hype.

      They may be stuck in the 1950s , but they are also stuck in some huge budgetary problems right now and management may well be wishing it was the 1950s

    • April 28th 2012 @ 12:08pm
      Jack Russell said | April 28th 2012 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

      Maybe they asked a couple of their female studio announcers and they declined.

      I doubt is was the deliberate decision you’re making it out to be.

    • April 28th 2012 @ 12:28pm
      Maughan said | April 28th 2012 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

      No women or all women. Should it really matter these days?

      As long as it was not done on the basis that women in general are incapable of filling the role it shouldn’t matter.

    • April 28th 2012 @ 6:52pm
      Pete #205 said | April 28th 2012 @ 6:52pm | ! Report

      This is Channel 9 we’re talking about here. They only bought the rights so that nobody else would show it. They’ll take pleasure sitting in front of the camera with a shit eating grin, giving us all the metaphorical “up yours”, and hinting that we should have subscribed to Fox if you wanted to watch any Olympic competition. They did it with the RWC, they’ll do it again here.

      Seeing as I’m a bit lazy now, anyone know if SBS is doing co coverage this time?

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