2012 gets 2010 off to a flying start

British Paralympic cyclingAt 12:49 BST on 6th July 2005 I was in a meeting in a glass box in a corner of Channel 4 HQ with my then boss Heather Rabbatts and Andy Taylor (now of All3Media) as the result was announced of the winning city of the 2012 Olympic Games. Heather went particularly nuts as her husband Mike had been a key player in the London bid and was out there in Singapore with the posse of British teens who helped land my beloved native city the Big One.

An echo of that excitement tingled my spine on Friday when this note came through from our beloved creative leader (Kevin Lygo):

Dear Wondrous Staff,

A great bit of news to start the year.

The Olympic Committee has awarded us the rights to cover the Paralympics in 2012. There was a fiercely competitive tender between us and the BBC and it’s a testament to how hard many people in the channel worked that we won the bid. … It is an indication of how strong the organization is that we have been awarded such an important and prestigious opportunity.

Onwards and upwards.

Kevin.

PS. Ratings are up 18% so far this year. Oh yes.

C4 beat off bids by the emerging duopoly – BBC and BSkyB. The BBC were Britishly magnanimous in defeat: “…we are pleased that the Games will be available to free to air audiences, and we congratulate Channel Four on securing the rights. We are sure the 2012 Paralympics will be a great success.” It really is a good reflection of how the Beeb and C4 fit together on the Public Service Broadcasting landscape – complementary and with a constructive creative tension.

The 2012 Paralympics are definitely in the right home – the home of Cast Offs, Vee TV, Crip on a Trip, Born to be Different, The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off, and of course re-imagined, re-energised Cricket (up to the 2005 Ashes victory which I was lucky enough to experience C4-stylee at the Oval on 12th September 05). We’re all super-proud at C4 HQ to have won this one and are looking forward hugely to bringing C4 values to such a fundamentally inspiring event.

Here’s the full story…

Channel 4 to be the Paralympic Broadcaster in the UK in 2012

  • Deal will deliver over 150 hours of television coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games – more than ever before;
  • Channel 4 will run its biggest ever marketing campaign to promote the Paralympic Games;
  • Every penny LOCOG has raised from selling the rights will be invested to provide the biggest and broadest TV feed of the Paralympic Games ever;
The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has awarded the UK broadcast rights to Channel 4 following a highly competitive tender process.

The deal with Channel 4 will provide the Paralympic Games and Paralympic sport with the strongest pre-Games broadcast coverage and marketing support it has ever received on UK television. As an example Channel 4 will be completely rebranded with a Paralympic theme after the London 2012 Olympic Games finish. Channel 4 will work with the world’s best production companies to build on its reputation for the most innovative sports coverage showcasing Paralympic sport to millions of viewers, fronted by a world-class presenting team.

Sebastian Coe, Chairman of London 2012 commented: “The eyes of the world will be focussed on the Paralympic Games – the world’s second biggest multi-sport event – in London in 2012. We will deliver a spectacular sporting showcase for the world’s greatest Paralympic athletes, and will use the power of Paralympic sport to raise awareness; challenge stereotypes; inspire understanding and communicate the Paralympic values of determination, courage, inspiration and equality.

We are absolutely delighted to appoint Channel 4 as our broadcast partner in the UK. Channel 4 shares our vision for the Paralympic Games, has a very strong appeal to young people, and will play a hugely important role in increasing public engagement and involvement in Paralympic sport in this country.

We are confident that the quality and depth of the broadcast coverage provided by Channel 4 not just for the 12 days of sport in 2012, but in the two and a half years leading up to the Games, will inspire disabled people of all ages to take up sport and be a catalyst for continued change in public attitudes towards disability. The commercial value of this deal has raised the bar financially for the Paralympic movement. ”

The deal with Channel 4 includes multi-platform broadcast rights within the UK, with non-exclusive rights in the Republic of Ireland. Channel 4 will produce and screen two peak time 10 part documentaries in 2011 and 2012, building the stories of the athletes and their journey to the London 2012 Paralympic Games. It will also include dedicated coverage of the Paralympic Torch Relay and will be supported by the biggest marketing campaign in the broadcaster’s history.

Channel 4 will also cover key disability sports and sporting events, in the run up to the Paralympic Games in 2012.

At Games-time, Channel 4 will deliver over 150 hours of coverage of the Paralympic Games, with over 130 hours on their core channel (Channel 4). Paralympic sport has never had this level of exposure in the UK. The coverage will be led by a flagship peak-time show, and extensive coverage will also be provided on mobile and online. Subtitling and audio description will form part of all the programming, ensuring the widest possible audience can enjoy the Games.

Lord Burns, Channel 4’s Chairman Designate, said: “For Channel 4, the London Paralympic Games will be the main event, not a sideshow to the Olympics; the Games will define our year in 2012 and take over Channel 4 for their duration. The Paralympics will be one of the most significant sporting events to be staged in Britain for many years and we’re confident the more comprehensive and more cross-platform coverage we are offering can connect the Games with the widest possible cross-section of British viewers.

Kevin Lygo, Channel 4’s Director of Television and Content, added: “Channel 4 has done more than any other broadcaster to bring disability into the mainstream and we have a great track record of broadcast innovation with sports like Test cricket. We are genuinely thrilled to be given this opportunity to work with LOCOG to bring Paralympic sport into full public focus before, during and beyond the 2012 Games and to deliver a lasting legacy, including altering public attitudes to disability and disability sport.”

Sir Philip Craven, President of the IPC commented: “The IPC congratulates Channel 4 as a free to air public broadcaster in being awarded the national television rights for the UK. I am sure they will work diligently in portraying just what a magnificent event the Paralympic Games really are, what Paralympic athletes are able to achieve and how they can inspire the world with their performances.

The IPC also wants to thank LOCOG, following a very open, transparent and fair process. The quality of all bids was very high, and I am confident that all bidding companies would have put on a great Paralympic Games coverage.”

Tanni Grey-Thompson commented: “I am pleased that the Paralympic Games will be shown by a terrestrial broadcaster in the UK in 2012. Channel 4 has some exciting plans for its coverage and marketing support.  I look forward to seeing these plans progress in the coming months and years ahead on the road to London 2012 ”

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6 comments so far

  1. practicalpsychologist on

    I agree and am also glad to see you acknowledging the magnanimous way the BBC reacted. I am at a loss to explain the relentless BBC bashing currently in vogue. Wherever I go in the world there are two things everyone knows about Britain. The first is the BBC. The second is Manchester United.

    Those who don’t travel and get their world-view from the Daily Mail have no idea about the remarkably important role the BBC plays in promoting Britain.

    That doesn’t mean however that it doesn’t have serious problems. And that there are some very arrogant people in senior management roles.

    Back to the Paralympics. There must be scope to follow some of Britain’s Paralympians in pre-Olympic training to give the public a real sense of how they prepare and to generate early interest. There is a very real chance that Britain could top of the medal table here. To think that it apparently all started with The Stoke Mandeville games 30 or so years ago. Jimmy Saville…

    Like

  2. ArkAngel on

    Yes, Jim fixed it. You can see from the press release that that sort of early tracking and engagement is what’s in mind.

    On the BBC front, the source of all the bashing is clear: Murdoch and Murdoch Jnr. They’ve loads (of money) to gain from killing the Beeb and we’ve all got loads to lose (but may not realise it until it’s too late – BE WARNED) – Fox News anyone? I’m not sure if I believe in evil but Murdochs give me good cause. See http://aarkangel.wordpress.com/2008/11/24/50-people-who-buggered-up-britain-and-20-who-saved-it/ #2

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  3. practicalpsychologist on

    I found the Murdoch Jnr speech last year repugnant.

    Like

  4. ArkAngel on

    Ironically I was in the audience cutaways of the Sky News (entirely objective) report of it looking repugged and desperate to shout out: “Fox News!”

    Like

  5. David Cotton on

    Dear Sir

    Congratulations from the British Athletes Commission the representative body of the nation’s elite athletes.

    Would it be possible to discuss how you can engage C4 staff, clients and viewers in the process of supporting the athletes in the run up to your coverage?

    Please contact me via the British Athletes website.

    Regards
    David Cotton

    Like

  6. ArkAngel on

    Many thanks, David, that is particularly appreciated coming from BAC – we shall be in touch shortly.

    Like


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