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Paralympics rights

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Roger Mosey | 12:25 UK time, Friday, 8 January 2010

I wrote here a few weeks ago about the BBC and the Paralympics, and the fact the rights to the London Paralympics were being marketed by the organisers. Well, we heard today that they've decided to award the contract to Channel 4.

Naturally, we're disappointed that we won't be able to continue with our tradition of covering disability sport in the Paralympics - and we remain enormously proud of what we've achieved over the years. But we congratulate Channel 4, and I'm pleased that the argument about free-to-air coverage has been won: the Paralympics won't be behind a pay barrier, and they'll be available to anyone who wants to watch them within the UK.

As for the BBC, we know we have an incredible portfolio in 2012. A combination of the Olympic Games on home soil, the first Diamond Jubilee since 1897 and all the many entertainment, arts and sport build-up events will mean an unprecedented year for the UK with the BBC telling the story across all our services and platforms. We will, of course, continue to support the Paralympics too - and our commitment to disability sport in general remains.

Inevitably, today's decision means we'll be showing our normal schedule on the main television channels instead of what we'd offered as our most extensive ever live Paralympic coverage. But we unambiguously want the Paralympics to be as much of a success as the rest of the year, and and we wish Channel 4 all the best with their coverage.


  • Comment number 1.

    Blimey. That's a bit of a surprise - and very disappointing. Not sure C4 (for all the very good work they did with the Cricket) will have the resources for the Paralympics. A real shame, IMHO.

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm sure you had lots of interesting plans in mind for the Paralympics and the BBC coverage would have been excellent, but I think this is good news for the games. For one thing, as you mention, it means it stays free-to-air after reports of pay broadcasters such as Sky bidding. But also, no matter how good the BBC coverage would have been it would always have been in the shadow of the Olympics. Channel Four have announced documentries in the build-up and that they will devote most of their schedules to the games, so in 2012 thier entire focus will be on the Paralympics.

    As for resources, it'll be interesting to speculate on who will be presenting and commentating, but I'm pretty sure the actual coverage of the events themselves will come from the hosts OBSL anyway, and so should be of the same standard as the Olympic coverage.

  • Comment number 3.

    this is quite disappointing, but i hope that c4 will utilise their family of channels (incl e4 and more4) as, no doubt, the bbc (using bbc1, bbc2 and bbc3) would have done

    unless, of course, they run out of money beforehand and hand back the contract

    however with both the olympics and euro 2012 that summer, and the timings of the paralympics coinciding with the new autumn season (aug 29-sept 9, the bbc may be somewhat relieved...

  • Comment number 4.

    A surprise, but I agree with bluejam - good news all round. A separate broadcaster for the Paralympics means it won't get overshadowed by the Olympics there and can be promoted months in advance, whilst in reality on the BBC the Olympics would be the main focus.

    It also means the BBC can solely focus on the Olympics and doesn't need to worry about political correctness when it comes to the level of coverage the Paralympics may receive - even though as you say it would have been covered on the main channels.

    And though the BBC's coverage of the games is always of an excellent standard, C4 being the new kid on the block will have to innovate as it did with cricket to prove itself, and that can only be a good thing. I've no worries about the quality of coverage - C4's own coverage will be produced by IMG Media and Sunset+Vine, two of the most experienced commercial producers in sports programming, whilst like the Olympics I assume the coverage of events themselves is co-ordinated by the London Olympic Broadcasting consortium with international broadcasters responsible for individual sports (and in the case of the Paralympics, an opportunity for local producers to come in where international ones have lefts since the Olympics).

    Indeed technically the BBC could still be involved in producing coverage of some sports, though a bit of a grey area where they're not the broadcaster - but through BBC Worldwide and BBC Resources I'd have thought a possibility.

    And thanks Roger for not shying away and posting this blog. Any news on radio rights - I think we've learnt today not to take things for granted, so I guess the radio rights are more important than they were now C4 have the TV rights.

  • Comment number 5.

  • Comment number 6.

    im sorry if this comment wont be politically correct but as good as it is for the paralympics takes place-i find the amount of tv coverage given to this event totally out of proportion with the time it deserves. and now it will be shown on a channel with breaks for adverts every few minutes that will mean even less reason to watch.

  • Comment number 7.

    I think this is a good decision from LOGOC and good for Channel 4.
    In recent Olympics, the Paralympics has been left to be the '2nd rank event' and the BBC has done its best to show the Paralympics despite the bad coverage but for another Broadcaster to have the Paralympics for 2012 wont see the Olympics overshadow it...someone has already pointed this out but Its probably the reason, LOGOC want both to be the 'best' ever and having it on the same Channel wont give it that.
    I am too great to see it given to Channel 4 for FTA Coverage unlike if it was given to Sky Sports or ESPN in that mind.
    Plus Channel 4 has promised to rebrand itself and with Channel 4 30 years old in 2012, its looking like a great 2012 and with IMG Media and Sunset+Vine getting involved would see Channel 4 cover the Paralympics brilliantly like the Beeb will with the Olympics but I hope Roger that you will meet the Person covering the Paralympics with Channel 4 to see how both can work together on each.
    Also Channel 4 have covered the Olympics before (in 1988) so they know what they are doing and if the Cricket on Four was great, Im looking forward for the Paralympics in 2012 soon after the BBC's Coverage of the Olympics!

  • Comment number 8.

    Although I'm sure the BBC are disappointed I must agree that this probably works best for all parties. BBC can focus on the Olympics, which is in effect the "mainstream" part of the summer, whilst Channel 4 can devote time to the build up to the Paralympics, which as has been mentioned above can often be overshadowed by the Olympics and is in effect the "fringe" part of the summer (no offence meant to anyone). Channel 4 often focusing seasons of TV on fringe issues and no doubt over the next 2 1/2 years we will have plenty of documentaries covering the build up to the paralympics and following around various athletes preparing for the games, which I doubt the BBC would have had the same time for. The BBC no doubt would have been focusing on the Olympics and would not be able to give the Paralympics the same coverage that Channel 4 will be able to.

  • Comment number 9.

    Interesting comments, as ever. To pick up a word from kasbah in #8: I don't think we remotely saw the Paralympics as "fringe", but there's no doubt we've got a 1000% full-on job in covering the Olympics and the multitude of other events in 2012. There are two views: one that the Paralympics are best served by being incorporated fully within that story, or the other that a single focus on the Paralympics would be better. We took the first view - but the second is perfectly legitimate too.

    Just addressing some points made elsewhere... I hate to quarrel with a fellow Yorkshireman, but for once I don't agree with Steve Busfield in his claim that we were over-confident.
    For one thing, it was blindingly obvious from the start of this process that the Paralympics would be very attractive to Channel 4 as well as potentially to Sky and pay broadcasters. And anyone reading this blog will know we never took the outcome for granted - hence what I said on October 15th: "the issue remains, though, whether we manage to secure the rights and that's obviously in question during any process. We'd like to meet the ambition Brekkie sets: more coverage and bigger audiences than ever before. But that does depend on the outcome of the tender."

    Since Brekkie was mentioned there, just to pick up his point about blogs. I and many other people in the BBC really enjoy them precisely because it's such a good way of debating the issues. In sport it's inevitable that you win (a lot, we hope) and lose some (occasionally) but the more we can share what we're up to - the better.

  • Comment number 10.

    Im sorry but for anyone coming on here claiming the paralympics shouldnt be overshadowed by the olympics is quite frankly being ludicrious.

    i would make one further observation. ask any paralympic competitor had they the choice would they

    1. win a paralypmic gold medal
    2 have no disability and finish a distant last in the main olympics

    i would suggest 99.99 % of competitors would choose the latter. Harsh but sadly true.The paralympics IMO is a competition set up so people with some sort of disability are able to compete against likewise people. thats fine but this sort of event will deserve something like 30 mins per day television coverage as i suggest very few people outside the friends and families of the competitors are REMOTELY interested

    sorry to be blunt and i know comments like these in this day and age are VERY unPC but i suggest are STILL the opinions of most

  • Comment number 11.

    Whilst its a surprise, at least the Paralympics won't be shown in the shadow of the Olympics and will get the airtime it so richly deserves - remembering the glorious success of UK Paralympians in Beijing!

    The only shame is that its going to be on a commercial channel where the games will be "interrupted" every few minutes for adverts.

    However, the dedicated coverage for Paralympics can ONLY be a good thing for sport as a whole.

  • Comment number 12.

    Late entering into this forum but it is an interesting decision, and I guess the main thing is that the rights have been awarded to a free-to-air broadcaster, meaning good exposure and, with it, the opportunity for all to be inspired to identify with the ambition that is realised by all competing.

    On another note to do with rights, I've just seen listed on the athletics page that the BBC will be covering the newly formed Diamond League, the expanded version of the Golden League. I am really pleased by the acquisition of these rights (I do miss the blogs flagging these things up though). I always remember Butch Reynolds breaking the 400m world record one night in Switzerland I think it was at a meet that the BBC covered and those athletics nights used to be something that I looked forward to. So I am looking forward to a great summer of meets on the BBC again. Thank you.

  • Comment number 13.

    I would have thought this is a good fit for Channel 4, and nice to see them spending money on something other than US sitcoms. For the BBC there are many battles ahead including the rights to Euro 2012, and the post 2012 Olympics. This is just one blip in a never ending saga.

  • Comment number 14.

    Thanks for bringing up the Diamond League coverage alphamark - I'm assuming that is TV rights, not just radio?

    Echo the comments about the sport editors blog too - it needs to be returned to it's former glory.

  • Comment number 15.

    BBC Press release now out on the Winter Olympics - - no word though if they're in Vancouver or London to present.

  • Comment number 16.

    Brekkie - The Winter Olympics team will be presenting from Vancouver and Whistler.

  • Comment number 17.

    Cheers. Thought with the time difference you might go for the London option, but glad you haven't as I do think it's money well spent having the presenters on location in the heart of the action rather than trying to get excited about it in a basement somewhere in TV Centre.

  • Comment number 18.

    Archicrooks - I think you're both ignorant and arrogant. I certainly wouldn't want to be non-disabled, if your remarks are typical. I've always been this way, and I see no valid reason not to be proud of who I am. And the Paralympics is all about the sport - just ask the competitors.

  • Comment number 19.


    you totally miss my point. i have no problem whatosever with the paralympics. i think its great the competition exists. However the time allocated to the event on TV far outweighs (INO) the time it deserves. and now the BBC wont be covering this maybe they could spend some cash on an event where the names of the competitors are likely to be remembered for more than the just the length of the tournament they play in


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