Nine’s Olympic coverage disappointing
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After last year’s Rugby World Cup, most keen sports watchers would be only too aware of a shared low opinion of Channel Nine and their sports coverage.
It was with much disappointment that I saw that Nine had once again snared the rights to a major sporting event, and would be broadcasting the Olympics from London.
I have to report that even at this early stage Nine has disappointed me.
Even prior to the opening ceremony I saw very little about the start of the football tournament from our official broadcaster.
While all of Australia’s other networks at least gave us the results from the men’s and women’s matches during their breakfast programming, Nine had Richard Wilkins and Richard Reid doing their morning round-up of celebrity gossip from London’s Piccadilly Circus instead.
What must it have cost the allegedly cash-strapped network to send these two to London just so they could report on Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson’s faltering relationship from a crowded London street rather than a Sydney studio I wonder?
Then we had the opening ceremony, and it was here that Eddie McGuire once again proved to me that he really should not be working in the media. This is a man who was universally castigated at the last Winter Olympics for mocking an ice skater’s choice of outfit and homosexuality. And yet here he is again, Nine’s senior representative at the Olympics.
First to raise my ire were some of Eddie McGuire’s mispronunciations. Is there really no-one at Nine that could have done a better job of commentating on the opening ceremony, or did ‘Eddie Everywhere’ just fancy an all-expenses trip to London?
How else to explain the presence of this quite amateurish presenter at the Olympics?
During the ceremony I learnt that the Chariots of Fire theme was originally written and performed by someone named ‘Van-Jellies’; and that Kenneth Branagh was playing the part of ‘Eye-Some-Bard’ Kingdom Brunel.
Like me, you may have thought that people from Ghana were known as Ghanaians, not to Eddie though. They’re ‘Garnuns’, apparently.
Interestingly, he later went the other way, maybe someone had had a word in his ear, and described the team from an Eastern European country as ‘Moldovians’, not ‘Moldovans’ or ‘Moldavians’, either of which are acceptable, but ‘Moldovians’.
Leila McKinnon also made a linguistic faux pas of her own: nicknaming the Icelandic flag bearer Ásdís Hjálmsdóttir ‘Dottie’.
For the record Leila, the naming convention in Iceland means that all females have the suffix ‘dóttir’, or ‘daughter’, applied to their name. They can’t all be called ‘Dottie’ can they?
There were shades of the Winter Olympics when Eddie began mocking the Kazakhstani flag bearer’s national dress. Had he really not learned anything from his mistakes of a few years ago? We don’t all perpetually wear black suits Eddie!
The worst of Eddie’s stuff-ups, though, came during the performance of ‘Abide with me’. This was a tribute to those that died in the London bombings of 2005, a terrorist act that will be forever linked to these Olympics, coming the day after the announcement of London’s successful bid for 2012, and thereby effectively ruining the city’s celebrations.
Eddie’s response to the symbolic dancing and the singing of a hymn that has strong ties to sport in the UK, was to talk incessantly over the performance. If I remember it correctly, Leila McKinnon didn’t say a word, I like to imagine that she was holding her head in shame at her co-commentator’s lack of tact.
Luckily for Eddie, the NBC in the US chose to ignore this section altogether and broadcast an interview with Michael Phelps instead. As a result, they seem to have attracted the sort of disgusted response from other sectors of the media that on any other day might have been reserved for McGuire.
Eddie wasn’t alone in making mistakes though. Another notable open-palm-to-forehead moment came when when Nine’s directorial unit decided that the viewing public wouldn’t want to see coverage of the teams entering the arena, but would rather see footage of Layne Beachley throwing a ball around, or some of Australia’s basketballers dancing in an embarrassed manner.
This was not only disrespectful to the other countries athletes, but as some people have already commented on the Roar, they missed seeing the team representing their family’s nation. As Australia is a nation made of migrants, with so many of us able to trace ancestry back to other countries, this seems a shocking oversight from a national broadcaster, especially when broadcasting an international event.
Where Nine did do well though was to give Andrew Gaze a mic. His insights were pretty informative, and he seemed far more professional than the professionals.
How about Nine taking a risk and just having Gaze and McKinnon for the closing ceremony, I can’t be the only one that’s had enough of Eddie McGuire, can I?
As for the events themselves, once day one got underway did anyone else feel that Nine were trying to appease everyone, but ended up pleasing no-one?
I was keen to watch the men’s cycling road race, coming so soon after the Tour de France. With the sport attracting so much interest in the UK following the exploits of Wiggins, Froome, and Cavendish, it was sure to attract a huge crowd.
Unfortunately for those of us watching from home, the coverage was awful – no onscreen info, chopping and changing from one camera to another so we had no idea of who was where in the race, or what part of the race we were watching.
Apparently, a lot of this was the fault of the BBC’s feed, who learnt nothing from their competitor’s coverage of the Tour and thought that merely bouncing the signal between a handful of cameras on motorbikes would suffice.
This doesn’t however explain Nine’s practice of showing approximately 90 seconds of cycling, cutting to 90 seconds of rowing, a quick snippet of swimming, back to the cycling, and so on.
I was left unhappy, as I’m sure viewers wanting to see the other sports were too.
With Nine now broadcasting across five channels in major cities, would it be too much to ask them to pull out all the stops and utilise Go! and Extra to show sports in their entirety, rather than just giving us tiny bite-size chunks of each? If this is the standard we are to expect, this could be the Olympics that most of will look back on and not be able to recall much of anything.