Complaint summary: Anti Team GB bias
An AFL reader contacted us to let us know about a complaint he submitted to a television company regarding their coverage of the Olympics… Here it is:
Complaint Summary: Anti Team GB Bias
Full Complaint: While watching the 2012 Olympics, which if I can remind you WE are hosting here in GREAT BRITAIN, I have been constantly irked by the seemingly uncontrollable urge by the so-called BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation, to include coverage not related to the fortunes of Team GB.
Often, I have been engrossed in anticipatory talk of a BRITISH medal hope, or reflection on a BRIT who had successfully kept a medal from leaving these shores, when the coverage would shift to an event at which only foreigners had a chance of winning, such as some of the rather uncouth sprint events.
This has occasionally happened for instance when the presenter hadn’t fully probed a BRITISH athlete for further comments about the fantastic support provided by the fans of Team GB, and how that clearly lifts the BRITISH athletes to be even faster, higher or stronger than would otherwise be the case.
Also, it strikes me that TEAM GB seem to have done rather well during these Olympics, as in between the BBC mainstay non-British coverage, I’ve been able to glean that we have actually won quite a few medals. Would it not have been a good idea to occasionally update the BRITISH viewing public on how many medals have been won by OUR representatives, and perhaps show where this accumulative national medal success stands alongside some of the BBC’s beloved non-British nations?
I fully expect my next TV licence to be shared by 7 billion other viewers, now that BBC Television has turned into the BBC World Service!
The television company responded thus:
Thanks for contacting us regarding our coverage of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
We’re receiving a variety of feedback including complaints, appreciations, enquiries and comments with many differing views or observations about numerous aspects of the coverage. We’re reporting this feedback in detail daily to our producers and other staff covering the games, and are grateful for your reaction because it is helpful in shaping the coverage.
However in order to use licence fee resources appropriately, we regret we cannot offer to address each individual point and are sending this reply to many of those who have contacted us.
It is always difficult to strike the right balance between on the one hand reflecting the UK’s massive support for Team GB, whilst on the other still appraising their performances fairly and accurately compared to other competitors, especially in light of our athletes’ own very high expectations and standards.
The BBC’s commentary team are all renowned experts in their field and if they feel an athlete hasn’t achieved their best, or has made a mistake in their performance, then it is their role to say so honestly and explain why, giving a professional and informed opinion based on technical knowledge and expertise.
There is no “bias” against Team GB and indeed we’re hoping for great success for Team GB just like everyone in the UK, but our remit is to provide critical, professional appraisals of every athlete in every event throughout the Olympics, and this will apply just as much to Team GB as anyone else taking part.
The BBC is a fair, balanced and impartial broadcaster thus it is only right that we review the performances of everyone involved in the Olympics using the same professional approach, commenting upon both the successes and the failures, reviewing the great as well as the not-so-great performances.
This is precisely what the athletes and their coaches themselves do when reviewing performances, a process where many technical and tactical points can be drawn out which can then be used for future improvement and development hopefully leading to future successes.
The BBC is not the host broadcaster, but we, like other national broadcasters, receive a number of video feeds thus we are not in direct control of the camera shots they choose to make available and who they choose to focus on.
We always endeavour to show interviews with the Team GB athletes after their performances but this might not always be possible due to the circumstances or arrangements at the venues which are beyond the BBC’s direct control. Where we can’t bring viewers something there and then, we will always aim to do so in later highlights or elsewhere across the BBC – for example, the day after their historic Bronze Medal win, BBC Breakfast had the whole Men’s Gymnastics team in the studio to talk in depth about their experiences.
We hope this response addresses your concerns and thanks for contacting us.