Sunday, July 29, 2012

Canadian TV Olympics

Those of us who live in the Greater Detroit metro area have long had an advantage when the Olympics came. Our television locally (ordinary as well as cable), brings us the broadcasts of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Now CBC is a commercial channel; ads are a routine part of its presentations. But there has been a vast difference in Canadian versus U.S. coverage of the Olympics. Canadians also “frame” events where Canadians have a chance to win, but they don’t twist and hype events the way our broadcasters always do. Its more about the sport, less about personalities, judges, national rivalries, and, of course, the Glory.

My sole trip to Japan took place during an Olympic summer; it was long ago, and I forget the year. I watched a good deal. I don’t have Japanese; nonetheless I thought it was by far the most plain and straightforward coverage of any games I’d ever seen before. Culture colors everything. Self-effacement is (or at least was) a Japanese characteristic.

This year there is no Canadian coverage for us kibitzers on the border. And you’re not told the reason why if you just watch CBC. You are supposed to know. A little research produces the following: Back in 2007 Canada’s Bell Media and Rogers Media formed a corporation called Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium. Its network is CTV. It has been covering the games since 2010. No more CBC Sports. Now while we do get CBC here, we don’t get CTV. Therefore we are in NBC’s hands—although on cable, anyway, two different channels (NBC and MSNBC) carry programming—and different kinds. But the flavor is hyped-commercial. And because the sports might not be exciting enough, prominent events are wrapped, diced, and flavored inside a kind of story—to make us all feel more involved. CBC, however, may yet bring us future games. Rogers has opted out of CTV’s future bids on games. Bell has therefore “partnered” with CBC to bid on future games. And that partnership is likely to win future rights. In the 2014 Winter—and the 2016 Summer Games—our own Channel 99 might yet give us a valued alternative.


  1. I must say, so far, I've seen lots and lots of interesting events but we are using our digital video recorder A LOT and then watching what we like and skipping most commentary and, of course, ads. So far, Handball, fencing, archery, water polo, kayaking, synchronized diving, volley ball, ping pong, and some gymnastics too. Be sure and look for the less... popular sports on the NBC affiliats like MSNBC, CNBC, and such.

    All this having been said, the CBC coverage is preferable in many ways... which is why we keep the volumn pretty low.

  2. Yes, Monique, we too have started to record the London 2012 programming. There are quite a few more unusual competitions to see if one can use a buffet-style viewing. And I will remember to turn down the volume when I "sort-of" watch while in the kitchen. The swimming and diving segments are great. I wonder if Michelle has time to see some of these.