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Going that extra 26.2 miles

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BBC Sport | 17:28 UK time, Monday, 22 October 2007

I'm Michael Cole and I'm the editor of live athletics.

The Great North Run normally signals the end of a pretty sustained period of athletics coverage on BBC TV, but following Paula Radcliffe's decision to take part in the New York Marathon we have an addition to our usual schedule. We'll be showing live coverage of both the men's and women's races on BBC TWO on Sunday 4 November.

By and large the plans for what is covered on TV are made well in advance. Long term rights contracts, negotiations with BBC ONE and TWO for airtime as well as the relatively high cost of delivering TV coverage mean that, on the whole, TV does not react with the same speed and news agenda as BBC radio sport or the BBC Sport website.

But fortunately we were able to look down the back of the sofa to find a bit of cash, do a deal with the race organisers and find some room in the BBC TWO schedule, so now the planning begins. The timing of the New York Marathon works really well for us as, with the time difference, the race actually happens in our afternoon which seems like pretty much the ideal slot.

Paula Radcliffe, Great North Run

On the Great North Run or London Marathon the BBC is responsible for providing all the pictures and as a result that gives us the opportunity to follow whichever race is more interesting at a particular time. Normally on an overseas road race we're in the hands of the host broadcaster and have to take what we are given on the World feed. There just wouldn't be room for both BBC and US television to have their own motorbikes following the race, and even if there was, the cost of producing our own dedicated coverage of a marathon would be prohibitive.

So for New York we'll go for a middle ground. We hope to have a position in the back of the outside broadcast van that makes the US TV coverage and access to the individual feeds from their motorbikes and helicopters. While the BBC producer, Helen Kuttner, won't be able to actually direct the cameras she cuts to, hopefully the American camera crew will think of their colonial cousins and we can make the BBC programme reflect a little more on the women's race than the World feed.

What we are not sure about is how much coverage the US TV crew will offer of other British runners taking part. One of our other major hopes for Beijing, Paralympian Shelly Woods, is taking part in the wheelchair race, so hopefully we'll be able to give some coverage of her too.

Hazel Irvine will also be out in New York to speak to Paula before and after the race and back in London, Sue Barker will present the show with Brendan Foster and Steve Cram adding their expert insight and commentary.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 12:53 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • allen wrote:

how come the great north run gets so much coverage, and the great south gets 10 seconds on local tv news coverage

  • 2.
  • At 09:59 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Neil Jones wrote:

Come on be honest - you are not bothered in the slightest about any of the thousands of athletes taking part except Paula Ratcliffe. If she wasn't running, this event wouldn't have appeared on your radar. This is more evidence of the most jingoistic, one-eyed, partisan and chauvinistic coverage currently active in British Sports Coverage.

In 1976 Clive James wrote of the Olympics "It is grotesque that the BBC commentators should still be sounding like old Pathe Pictorials, desperately cherishing an illusion of British influence which would be fatuous even if it were real." Well Clive, they're even worse now.

  • 3.
  • At 08:35 AM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • David wrote:

I'm sure that the many other British runners who take part in the New York Marathon every year will be over the moon that, now that Paula has decided it is an important race, the BBC has also decided it is worth showing.

You did a big piece a few weeks back about showing the European Championships whether England and Scotland were there or not and now you're saying that you're only showing hte NYM because "Our Paula (TM)" has deigned to run in it. Hopefully you will see from this that the race is impresive and more exciting than London and continue to cover it in future regardless of whether the darling of long distance running thinks she has done it a favour by showing up.

  • 4.
  • At 10:50 AM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • Neil Jones wrote:

The fact of the mattter is that BBC Sport is run by people who are only interested in viewing figures, when that approach should be left to commercial TV. In BBC minds, no Paula = no viewers = no brainer.

  • 5.
  • At 11:28 AM on 29 Oct 2007,
  • Lynsey Giles wrote:

I'm in agreement with previous comment made re Great South Run - why the discrimination?! 18,500 runners took part yesterday and battled hard in the wind and rain - why was there no live coverage but hours for the run up north?!

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