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SBD Global/September 24, 2013/Media

America's Cup New Zealand Coverage Criticized As 'Television Evangelism'

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A couple weeks ago, the America's Cup "stopped being a boat race and turned into a gospel meeting that merged religion and patriotism," according to Mark Reason of FAIRFAX NZ NEWS. In Australia and New Zealand, it "has been compelling viewing." The racing "has teetered on the twin edges of danger and rivalry." And do not "forget farce." The boats and the backdrops "have been breathtaking." The sailors, the designers and the boatbuilders "inspire our admiration." But 1.5 million New Zealander viewers "are not all interested in yachting." We "are being played by the marketers and the presenters of TVNZ." Objectivity and impartiality, which were once at least distant goals in sections of the media, "have been abandoned on the altar of commerce." The America's Cup is about viewing numbers "and viewing numbers are about selling product." One's coverage of the race "is television evangelism." Since when did "we" become part of national broadcasting? Since Rupert Murdoch decided back in the '80s that "sport was the religion of the masses and turned television coverage into a promo package that has subsequently spawned the likes of Man United TV and now, apparently, Team NZ TV." That is "patriotism for you." Albert Einstein "called it the measles of mankind." Mark Twain "called it the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about" (FAIRFAX NZ NEWS, 9/22). FAIRFAX NZ NEWS' Duncan Johnstone suggested this America's Cup "is reality television gone mad." The inflexibility of the racing schedule "is at the root of the problem." It is "a nonsense." But that is "it's timeslot on the small screen." The America's Cup is bowing to a TV audience in the U.S. "that is comparatively nonexistent when viewed alongside the major sports that dominate the screens at this time of the year, primarily baseball and NFL." Yet "the rest of the sailing world suffers" (FAIRFAX NZ NEWS, 9/23).

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