Before I begin, let me just say I am very grateful to Channel 4 for bringing the World Athletic Championships to terrestrial TV. I do not have Eurosport and am therefore very glad that was able to watch Mo Farah’s fantastic silver medal live, as well as every one of Jessica Ennis’ heats.
Channel 4’s coverage has receieved a lot of complaints, ranging from poor presenting and the number of adverts. It has, however, saved itself with the number of experts it has on board, including Michael Johnson, usually found on the BBC’s coverage, Dean Macey and Iwan Thomas. Despite its faults, it does bring some excellent views from some excellent pundits.
But today, its coverage reached a new low.
Channel 4, decided, that they would be best suited to show Three In A Bed (a Come Dine With Me style show based around B&B owners) over the end of what was becoming a thrilling men’s pole vault final. The final finished around 15 minutes after the scheduled finish time for the athletics. Is Channel 4 really so inflexible with its schedule that it could not run on for an extra 15 minutes?
Channel 4’s coverage has been of a lesser standard than we usually expect from the BBC, but ending the programme early was a big mistake that the BBC would never have made. Did they honestly believe that people would be incensed if they were not able to watch Three In A Bed or Countdown on time?
A big story of the day was also building after the 100m Hurdles Final, where the winner, Dayron Robles was shown to have hit the Chinese athlete twice, and was subsequently disqualified. Channel 4 had also promised a recap of the day’s events.
The hurdles final, including the event between Robles and Xiang
Channel 4, though, decided that its own programmes were more important than a live sporting event.
What if the pole vault final had involved British athletes? Would we have been prevented from watching a British athlete win a medal? Indeed, the Robles story had the potential for a British Bronze medal if Robles was indeed disqualified, as Britain’s Andy Turner finished in 4th.
Next year, and this is a fact that Channel 4 has been promoting avidly, it is the broadcaster for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. Are they going to continually stick to their seemingly rigid schedule if the athletics, god forbid, looks as though it could run over for a few minutes?
Channel 4 needs to find some flexibility – and fast – before it finds itself inundated with messages from angry athletic fans such as myself.