BBC committed to Paralympics coverage
With the Olympics fresh in the memory and some experiencing 'withdrawal symptoms', a number of you are asking about our plans for the Paralympics. Will we be replicating the extensive Olympic coverage across all of our output when the Paralympics start in a week's time?
The answer is, unfortunately, no. The simple fact is the television rights for the Paralympics were awarded to Channel 4 by the London organisers, Locog. We've known about this since January 2010 and my colleague Roger Mosey blogged about it at the time.
So, the reason is not that we think the Paralympics doesn't deserve all-embracing coverage. On the contrary, the BBC has had a long standing commitment to the Paralympics and indeed a proud tradition of covering disability sport - one that's valued by sports governing bodies here in the United Kingdom and envied around the world - so it would be bizarre for us to make such a decision without cause.
As a result though, we are unable to provide any live TV coverage of the sporting action this time. We wish Channel 4 well and are pleased that some of the faces and voices that the public enjoyed through the Olympics on the BBC, such as Clare Balding and Jonathan Edwards, will be seen and heard in their coverage. Some of their production staff have also worked for and been trained by the BBC.
Despite this, the BBC still has a major stake in the success of the Paralympics. BBC Radio 5 live and Radio 5 live sports extra will be the home of live commentary and reporting from the Paralympic Games. As we did so successfully during the Olympics, it will be our privilege to showcase the main events, feature the key athletes and personalities and conduct the national conversation surrounding the Games.
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson won 11 gold Paralympic medals between 1992-2004. Photo: BBC
Legendary Paralympic athlete Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and swimmer Marc Woods will be at the heart of our programmes presented daily from the Olympic Park. John Inverdale will be hosting coverage through 5 live Drive and 5 live Sport, whilst Shelagh Fogarty will present her 12-2pm show from Olympic Park. Other shows such as Breakfast will also, at times, be presented from the Park.
The BBC network of 40+ local radio stations, including BBC London, will also feature those athletes making an impact on the Games. They have reported on their progress in the months leading up to the Games and their unrivalled reach will ensure the stories and achievements of our athletes can be reported back to every corner of the UK.
It will also be a priority for our BBC TV News outlets and local television stations to report the stories of the Games. In common with other non-rights holders, we have no access to venues and limited access to the Olympic Park. Plus, we are also restricted in the amount of footage we can use to illustrate any reports and interviews. Nevertheless, we will, with the co-operation of Paralympics GB, get opportunities to interview athletes after they have competed and we are committed to featuring their exploits across our network and regional news programming.
We are also making a strong digital commitment to the Paralympics. There will be dedicated Paralympics sections on our web and mobile sites, where you will be able to find all the latest news, results, medals table, schedule and photo galleries, as well as following the action throughout every day via our ever-popular live text commentary page.
You will be able to listen to live action at bbc.co.uk/5live while we will also showcase the best bits of 5 live - commentary highlights, interviews, video clips - via one easy-to-use page. You will also be able to visit the BBC 2012 portal to find the best of the BBC's online offering across News, Sport and Regions in one place.
As you can see, we are fully committed to reflecting the Paralympics across the BBC despite the absence of live TV sports coverage. The Paralympics is one of the landmark events of 2012. It will be the biggest ever and we fully recognise that this is a big opportunity to continue to build the profile of the Paralympics and disability sport with our audiences, as the BBC has done so successfully for many years.