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SBD Global/August 7, 2012/Media

BBC Reporters Critisized For Hands-On Approach To Athlete Interviews

Great Britain's victories in the Olympics "may have taken the nation’s emotions to a new level, but viewers are unhappy that the BBC’s reporters can’t seem to keep their own in check," according to the London DAILY MAIL. Many have complained about "over-excited touchy-feely displays of congratulation or consolation" from the corporation’s journalists. This has included "rubbing, stroking and patting athletes" as they interview them. Most prominent has been athletics trackside reporter Phil Jones, whose tactile interviews with Team GB's Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah "raised eyebrows." On Sunday, viewers "questioned the over-exuberance and urged reporters to calm down." The backlash comes after broadcaster John Inverdale "was in tears" as he consoled two British rowers on Saturday who just missed out on Gold. Armchair spectators made their feelings known on BBC websites and Twitter. One wrote, "When did BBC reporters get the go-ahead to start touching athletes? I’ll let this boat dude off but the athletics fella is a bit touchy-feely." Another commented: "Why are some of the BBC Olympic OB presenters so touchy-feely when they interview medal winners, they are practically groping them" (DAILY MAIL, 8/6). In London, Mark Webster reported that in the Olympic Stadium studio, the BBC's Inverdale and Colin Jackson "were at it again." As if their "sartorial stand off" on Super Saturday was not enough, for Speed Sunday, both had opted for blazers with piped lapels that "wouldn't have looked out of place on cult '60s series 'The Prisoner'" (DAILY MAIL, 8/5).

RED BUTTON OLYMPICS: Also in London, Stuart Heritage opined on the GUARDIAN's TV&Radio Blog that BBC's red button Olympics allowed him to go to "the outer reaches of the Olympics." He wrote, "On Friday afternoon ... I was struck out alone on channel 500-and-whatever, watching the fifth race in the men's windsurfing RS:X. Which, as it turns out, is probably the least televisual sport ever created." He added: "And Super Saturday might have been super for those of you who were allowed to watch BBC flitting from success to success, but I was watching China play Russia in the doubles table tennis" (GUARDIAN, 8/6).

CHEER FOR THE HOME TEAM: In Dubai, Sunil Gavaskar opined watching the Olympics in England is "unwatchable" by the fact that only those sports where British athlets are participating in are covered on TV. Since London is the host city, "it is understandable" there would be more emphasis on what their athletes are doing, but the interruption in the coverage of other countries’ matches to switch to one where British teams or athletes are in action "does endanger the poor TV screen." The TV commentary also is "so biased that it is stomach churning." Here again it is understandable that British commentators would want their teams and athletes to win, but "to look for conspiracies every time a British athlete doesn’t win is taking it a bit too far" (GULF NEWS, 8/6).
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