NBCUniversal Says Beijing Olympics Coverage Will Include ‘Geopolitical’ Issues

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Jan 19 (Reuters) – Comcast’s Corp. NBCUniversal, under pressure from human rights groups, said on Wednesday its broadcast coverage of the 2022 Beijing Olympics would include China’s “geopolitical context” as a as host country.

The coverage plans, detailed in a video presentation to reporters, followed urgings from human rights groups and a US congressional committee to cover China’s rights abuses during the Olympics, which begin on February 4.

In 2014, NBCUniversal paid $7.65 billion to extend its US broadcast rights for the Olympics until 2032.

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The Beijing Games have been marred by controversy over the past year, and the United States and other governments have announced a diplomatic boycott of the event over what they say are violations of Uyghur rights and other Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang region. China denies wrongdoing in Xinjiang and says camps for Uighurs provide job training and curb religious extremism.

Human rights and press freedom groups have also raised concerns about journalists and NBC being able to report freely during the Olympics, citing the crackdown on press freedom. in China.

The NBC News division, which has an office in Beijing, will cover news in China, while the NBC Olympics division “will cover issues that impact the Games as needed,” said Molly Solomon, executive producer and president. from NBC Olympics Production. the presentation video.

“We’re going to be focused on telling the stories of Team USA and covering the competition,” Solomon said. “We understand that there are difficult issues regarding the host country, so our coverage will provide perspective on China’s place in the world and the geopolitical context in which these Games are taking place. But the athletes remain the centerpiece of our cover.”

Solomon added that NBC had a reputation for “not shy away from these topics” at previous Olympics.

She said NBCU will have reporters at all Olympic venues. “If something happens, we will have our own cameras on site.”

Businesses around the world have wrestled with the difficult task of balancing corporate responsibility and social responsibility, without angering the government of one of the world’s largest markets.

Last month, China accused Walmart of “stupidity and myopia” after the retailer appeared to stop stocking products from Xinjiang.

CHANGE OF STRATEGY

The Beijing Games, the second Olympics to be broadcast by NBC amid the coronavirus pandemic, provide the company with an opportunity to refine its strategy based on what it learned last summer. Its broadcast of the Tokyo Games, which were delayed by a year due to the pandemic, drew the smallest audience for the Summer Games since NBC began broadcasting them in 1988. Yet the competitions have always attracted the largest television audiences when they aired, making them attractive showcases for advertisers.

For Beijing, NBC said it was doing more to simplify the viewing experience, responding to criticism that content from last summer was hard to find on the company’s many platforms, including its streaming service. Peacock.

NBCUniversal aired the Tokyo Games on two broadcast networks, six cable networks and several digital sites. But that reach caused confusion: While all of Peacock’s Olympic programming was available to stream for free – with some events available live – viewers had to pay the $4.99 premium tier to watch men’s basketball live, a strategy designed to increase subscriptions to the service. .

NBC will broadcast every Beijing event live on Peacock’s premium tier, in addition to streaming coverage on the NBC Broadcast Network, USA Network and CNBC cable networks, the NBCOlympics.com website and the NBC Sports app. It will also feature a customizable schedule on NBCOlympics.com and run on-screen cues during studio segments that will remind viewers what’s going on, Solomon said.

The company has nearly 100 advertisers for the Games, with ad inventory nearly depleted and average spend “slightly higher” than the 2018 Winter Games, said Dan Lovinger, NBCU’s president of ad sales and partnerships.

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Reporting by Sheila Dang and Helen Coster Editing by Grant McCool

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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