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Foxtel and Nine fall out over Olympic ‘calamity’ coverage
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Foxtel and Nine fall out over Olympic ‘calamity’ coverage - 19-February-2010, 17:57

Foxtel and Nine fall out over Olympic ‘calamity’ coverage

Relations between Nine and Foxtel – who have joint TV rights to the Winter Olympics coverage – hit rock bottom this afternoon after Foxtel accused the free-to-air network of showing a Woolworths ad instead of the PM ME ONLY “history-making award ceremony” of Australia’s first gold medal winner.
Snowboarder Torah Bright won the medal. Within minutes, Foxtel issued a press release headed “Channel Nine’s Winter Olympic Games Calamity Continues”. It claimed:
“As Foxtel broadcast her history-making award ceremony over all four of their new Winter Olympic Channels, Channel Nine instead chose to air an advertisement for Woolworths – The Fresh Food People.
“Channel Nine eventually aired the ceremony – some five minutes later – with Ken Sutcliffe telling viewers it was PM ME ONLY.”
However, Nine issued its own release saying the claims were both “erroneous and inflammatory”. It also claimed that Foxtel CEO Kim Williams had apologised to Nine CEO David Gyngell regarding the contents of the release, which Williams, said Nine, had also described as “disgusting”.
Mumbrella asked Foxtel to confirm Williams’ coments, but it declined to do so. A spokesman said: “I don’t have anything else to say.”
The Nine release also pointed out that the main medal ceremony for Bright takes place tomorrow, and all that viewers missed PM ME ONLY were her being presented with flowers.
Nine added that Foxtel’s claim that Sutcliffe misled viewers by presenting the ceremony as “PM ME ONLY” minutes later was “totally false, as the record shows”.
The incident follows widespread criticisim over Nine commentators’ Eddie McGuire and Mick Molloy’s comments during the men’s ice skating which several viewers complained were homophobic. Foxtel also recapped that criticism in the press release.
Prior to the Olympics, Nine and Foxtel had emphasised their close working relationship, which also saw the broadcasters successfully make a joint bid for the 2012 London Olympics. However, the atmosphere between free-to-air channels and subscription television has worsened dramatically in recent days. It follows the Government’s much-discussed decision to give the free-to-air TV networks what amounts to a $250m discount on their broadcasting licences.
Gyngell said that free to air television was ad-funded, and that ad breaks were nothing to apologise for. He said:
“Our telecast of the Games has been first class, and the coverage of Torah Bright’s fantastic win was entirely appropriate in every respect. Nor do I make any apology for Nine running a Woolworths commercial after her event was completed, and post all the relevant interviews and replays of the event. That is a commercial reality. And Woolworths are a great sponsor of the Games.”
Meanwhile the network will be interviewing Bright on A Current Affair shortly.
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‘calamity’, coverage, fall, foxtel, olympic

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