Fears over 2012 Paralympic TV coverage


Fears over 2012 Paralympic TV coverage

Coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games could be restricted to the internet or subscription TV channels.

Although the BBC has secured UK television rights to cover the 2012 Olympic Games, the rights for the Paralympics have yet to be awarded.

And because the Paralympics are not one of the nine major sporting events that must be broadcast live on free-to-view television, according to the Broadcasting Act, they could be sold to any UK broadcaster.

The issue was raised last month by Dee Doocey, the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Olympics spokeswoman, who asked London’s Mayor to use his influence to ensure the 2012 Paralympics can be viewed on free-to-view television.

Speaking afterwards, Doocey said: “It would be totally unacceptable if access to the Paralympic Games was restricted, with people forced to pay to watch them on television.

“Such a development would marginalise the Paralympic Games and be a complete betrayal of the promises that were made about the Games being fully accessible.”

A London 2012 spokeswoman said they were committed to finding “the right platform to showcase Paralympic sport” and were in discussions with the industry to find a broadcaster which “best meets this criteria”.

But she declined to say if the rights could be sold to an internet or non-terrestrial broadcaster, as it “wouldn’t be appropriate for us to comment on who the rights could go to” during the tender process.

But she added: “It is right that LOCOG (the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) runs a competitive process before entering into significant contracts.

“We do this to ensure fairness and transparency and because our experience shows that we secure significantly better commercial and other terms and conditions when we run a disciplined competitive process.”

She suggested that the more money was paid for the rights, the broader the coverage was likely to be.

A spokeswoman for ParalympicsGB, which funds, prepares and manages Britain’s Paralympic teams, said: “We want as many people as possible to be able to watch as much as possible of the London 2012 Paralympic Games and have made this clear to LOCOG in our many discussions.

“We believe that this is fundamental in helping the Games achieve our aim of changing perceptions of Paralympic sport and therefore people with a disability.”

She praised the BBC’s coverage of previous Paralympics, but declined to say whether ParalympicsGB was concerned that an internet or subscription TV channel could win the rights.

6 October 2009