In a newsupdate on SportsBusiness.com, the website for SportsBusiness International, (http://www.sportbusiness.com/news/167626/
ioc-bans-nine-network), the IOC banned an Australian tv network from
the Beijing Games. This blogger thinks that the IOC needs to be careful..
Network NIne, an Australian broadcast network, was interviewing an athlete at the swim venue for the Beijing Olympics. Problem was,Network Seven in Australia holds the rights to broadcast as the official rights holder in Australia.
Sportbusiness.com quoted a story from Around the Rings ( a prominent Olympic movement newsletter) that Network Seven filed a protest against Network Nine with the IOC. The IOC, as is their right, took away credentials and access from the offending network from the Olympic swimming venue.
Media rights in TV, radio, even print, are pretty easy to see. The lines in the sand are quite clear. The IOC, in order to protect their rights holders, have the right to protect their interest. It was quick response, here is the result of your actions type of move. However, it does suggest some other reflection on the matter.
At the US Olympic Trials, all media had to sign a twelve point agreement recognizing the all powerful NBC as rights holder, agreeing not to infringe on their coverage, not to use live film from the track of any event ( check out You Tube, you can see how successful that was), and also remove Trials coverage from your website from August 7 to August 27. Oh, and if you screw up, NBC takes your first born male child. Of course, I added that last bit to add some theatrics to this column, but you get my drift. It is all about control over what can not be controlled.
As the father of one young adult, the oldest of five and a former dorm prefect, overseeing 30-40 teenage boys for five years, I can tell you that control in the smallest situation, to the largest, is an illusion.
The IOC needs to keep that illusion going while also gently nudging the LOC and Chinese government to lighten up on the non violent protests. While the IOC surely wants Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt on television, they surely do not want to have a few billion people watching Chinese authorities macing and arresting non violent protesters during the Olympic Games.
Face it, there will be protests. Part of the protest game is to embarrass the government into change. I am not sure that will work in China, at this time. The Olympics are about nationalism, pride in the nation of China and the Chinese especially find the Western notion of shoving a negative into ones' face a bit primitive.
In my mind, there is true ignorance on both sides, and if one considers that many Chinese know their history and the last few hundred years had a little thing called colonialism going on, Westerners would tread much more carefully before they hurl the Free Tibet flag out in a square. The Chinese do see the irony in the protesters' situation.
Over the next few weeks, it is important that the world learn from each other. Even with the global village thought process, we still focus on what separates us rather than what brings us together.
My guess is that the IOC and the LOC will look at the calendar each day, taking a deep breath, knowing that one more day has been successfully completed. Somehow, in the five Olympics I have gone too, the good news does outweigh the bad. Let's hope and pray that is the case in Beijing.
I leave for Beijing in 26 hours. I am getting very excited. Friends who are already there are telling me about the venues, the fans, and even walking in a neighborhood. You will see me on my daily walks and also be able to read my observations several times a day, starting next Monday.
Let's Run covered (http://www.letsrun.com) covered a press conference for the Jamaican team and Usain Bolt. They had great observations on the staid nature of the Western media's part of the press conference and the excitement and vitality of the Asian part of the press conference.
Even with the clampdowns on press conferences and unapproved gatherings, there will some very fun but unapproved gatherings and we, at runblogrun.com, hope to be able to provide you with some coverage of some such events with the most modest forms of communication.
A final word for the IOC and LOC. My mother, Marilu Eder, who raised five children with my father Stan Eder, told me once that there were times she would just act like she had not seen an action or behavior of one of us. With five teenagers in one house, at one time, I am not sure how my parents survived. My mother's observation was that by ignoring some of the little issues in a day, she forced us to work it out among ourselves and therefore, the issues she choose to discipline us about might actually stay in our consciousness for more than a minute and nineteen seconds. It is a management style I have embraced.
Perhaps, the IOC and LOC can learn from this. Sometimes, they just have to ignore some of the silly things in order to get their point across on the matters that matter. With the world watching, and 540 plus television stations, prudent responses are needed, and hoped for, as, again, this is the Olympics.