Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Why can't local and knowledgable anchors comment on the Olympic opening ceremonies?

The other day I was watching the Sochi Olympics opening ceremony.  For the London 2012 one we had watched the Canadian coverage of it, but this drove me mad as a Brit because the presenters and commentators appeared to be chosen based on seniority and not on their knowledge of all things British.  This time for Sochi, we decided to watch the British (BBC) version.  They chose a different tack to the Canadians previously - here, they chose to put a sports commentator in what is really a cultural spectacle - not a sporting event. 

Again, I was getting a bit hot under the collar...

Some days before the opening ceremony there was a rumour circulating online that people had heard t.A.T.u (a group who's name is from the acronym for "This girl loves that girl" - but it's pronounced the same as "tattoo") singing at the rehearsals.  

I made a comment on twitter that if true, this would be one of the greatest trolling moments in Olympic history.  Given the circus of issues surrounding gay rights in Russia currently, the only thing they could upstage this with is probably playing a song from Pussyriot.  So, the ceremony started and as the Russians came up the entrance ramp, there in the background was the unmistakable chants of "Nas ne degoniat" ("Not gonna get us") by t.A.T.u.

So, what did the BBC have to say about this?  Nothing.  

Just like the senior Canadian anchors couldn't work out what references to British life they were looking at during London 2012, this BBC sports-based crew had no idea about the significance of what Russia was playing in the audio.

This cluelessness about the magnitude of foreign things in context reminds me of when the American news were covering the planes finally taking off after being grounded for days due to 9/11...  It was an ANA (All Nippon Airways - a honking great big airline) plane that taxied out first on the screen - the anchor was like "and here comes the first plane... Er, no idea who they are... Oh, look, here's a United plane behind them, we are back!".

It infuriates me when anchors have the chance to do their job of explaining the significance of things to the public and then omit key details that change the way the entire story can be told.