Dropping the TV snowball

CTV dimisses real-time events for montages and terrible commentary

By JIM KERNAGHAN, QMI Agency

Let's have a look, three days into the Olympic Games, at how the people who brought the action to a record television audience over the weekend are performing.

The multi-network consortium has covered everything quite well, with a glaring exception. How, you wonder, could CTV go on blithely running sports features without breaking for what was a major story exploding in downtown Vancouver Saturday?

More than 1,000 protesters marauded through the area, including an anarchist group called The Black Brigade.

Windows were smashed, red paint hurled and bystanders harassed by shrieking vandals, some wearing masks, who clashed with police.

This is 2010. With an estimated 25 separate causes piggybacked into this protest, it is not a stretch to imagine terrorists among them.

The network did get to it eventually -- on local newscasts. With all the equipment and talent at its disposal, you'd have thought it would cover the uproar more thoroughly than any breaking story it has ever encountered.

Most newspapers certainly devoted people and space to what could yet turn out to be an extremely serious problem.

The Olympic Games TV production has had a number of positives, including features such as The Difference Makers and How Tough features.

Rick Hansen's Difference Makers featured ski mogul star Alex Bilodeau and his cerebral palsy-afflicted brother Frederic in a touching segment Sunday.

Former Olympic pairs gold medal winners Jamie Sale and David Pelletier had some fun in a How Tough spot while trying out speed-skating ("I want a restart" Sale grumbled when Pelletier outpaced her).

As usual, Brian Williams has been the consummate host, a status borne of his solid background. Unlike some others in radio and television -- and even print journalism these days -- Williams's career involved attending practices and games and getting to know the athletes, not sitting in an office or studio pontificating.

His co-host Jennifer Hedger has come a long way since her days with Rogers Cable in London. So has a more relaxed former women's hockey star Cassie Campbell.

James Duthie of TSN has to be the most unruffled of all the Olympic on-air folks with an agreeably smooth, and sometimes humorous, approach. He and CTV's Lisa LaFlamme play well off each other.

Duthie's comment when he swung to speed skating thinking they were going to hockey: "That's one of the strangest women's hockey games I've ever seen."

There is one glitch that we've all seen for years across the television spectrum when it comes to satellite use.

There is that annoying delay between when the question is posed to a person in another locale and when the person hears it after the satellite bounce.

As interviewer Seamus O'Regan found when speaking to two supporters of skier Emily Brydan Sunday, an out-of-synch three-way conversation can get pretty crazy.

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