Fri, September 20, 2013

D'oh! BBC blasted for homer coverage

By THANE BURNETT, QMI Agency


Andy Murray is covered by his British flag as poses with his two medals during the presentation ceremony for tennis mixed doubles at the All England Lawn Tennis Club during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 5, 2012. (REUTERS)

LONDON - There are apparently more than British competitors at the Olympics. For international visitors here, who knew?

BBC officials are apparently struggling over the issue of their own flag waving -- or at least wanting to include other banners as well.

As the Summer Games enter their last days, the BBC has been one of the biggest cheerleaders for homegrown talent.

Not surprising, as "Team GB" -- the brand given the British squad -- has performed remarkably.

And, as expected, there's been a steady stream of British medal winners parading before BBC cameras while breathless commentary has weighed heavy on following their own contenders down the track or in the water.

But the U.S. media -- including the Wall Street Journal -- has raised questions on why the BBC isn't more even-handed, giving more time to athletes from other countries.

Commentators here become caught up and choked with excitement of British performances, and when sailor Ben Ainslie won gold, a BBC commentator pulled up beside him in a boat, practically hugged him, and gushed: "You are the greatest Olympic sailor in history."

Replays most often dwell on British hopefuls, some times ahead of the athletes who won.

But in fairness, local athletes are the faces the British audience wants to see.

And during a press conference Friday, when asked about coverage here, British cyclist Laura Trott shrugged and said if she and her peers keep winning, then they're naturally going to get face time on TV.

BBC Director General Mark Thompson said in a statement that his words to staff, reminding them to always look for the big picture, shouldn't be seen as criticism of the job they've done.

He added they would continue to celebrate their athletes with pride.

"We can do that while at the same time making sure that our news programs fully reflect some of the other great sporting achievements and human stories of the London Games."

Thane.burnett@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @thane.burnett