Simone Biles on an old TV
Simone Biles on an old TV

Peter Williams: Wasn't the media coverage of the Olympics disappointing?

Peter Williams 09/08/2021

OPINION: No money, poor quality reporting of the greatest sporting event in the world.

What did you make of the TV coverage of the Olympics? Were you someone who has Sky and switched around the channels so you could watch your favourite sport when it was on, or did you just rely on what you might call the omnibus channels, like Sky’s Tokyo Gold or TV 1 to show you supposedly the best of the best? 

What frustrated me, and maybe it’s because I’m in the game, it would have been good to know who some of the commentators were. They came from this pool of broadcasters who were employed by the OBS, the Olympic Broadcasting Service, but we hardly ever heard who they were. And the people who do those jobs have to provide a completely neutral and unbiased commentary, not favouring any athlete from any one particular country.

That’s why John McBeth and Ben Fouhy were brought in to do a New Zealand-centric commentary on Lisa Carrington’s races, and one or two other events too, like the shot put. But when you take the parochialism out of commentary at the Olympic Games doesn’t it get very boring, especially when New Zealanders are in contention?

But in the New Zealand media these days it’s all about saving money, and sadly that showed. The worst offenders were radio. I thought their so-called commentary coverage was pathetic because they just took the TV commentary, which is entirely unsuited to radio. I just think back to the days when radio commentators at the Olympic Games were actually at the venues, then to save money they were in off-tube booths at the broadcast centre in the Olympic city, then to save even more money they were in voice over booths doing live calls in Auckland, and now to save even more money they’re not doing any radio commentary at all.

I thought radio commentary coverage was hopeless, especially with so many events on during the daytime here. But that’s the current state of the New Zealand media. No money, and poor quality reporting and commentary on the greatest sports event in the world.

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