Tuesday, August 17

My cliff notes on the Olympic coverage

First, the most alarming issue is the great US media firewall / blackout on the olympics. This goes well beyond just making sure NBC gets it's money's worth in advertising dollars. There has even been a black out of coverage on blogs (but more on that later). This is censorship, a violation of freedom of speech and a violation of freedom of the press. It also poses an undue burden on broadcasters in other countries. It is simply absurd. I can't believe the courts have allowed capitalist interests to trump such fundamental civil liberties. We're use to talking about censorship and media blackouts in other coutries such as the Russia's Iron Curtin or the great firewall of China, but here in the US? This is a first. (I'll be blogging more on this later.)
The Summer Olympics, which began Friday in Athens, is the first Olympic Games to be broadcast from a collection of websites. The BBC and other European networks are offering live, on-demand Internet video streaming of Olympic events to broadband viewers. But the BBC and fellow members of the European Broadcasting Union are required by their Olympic broadcast contracts to block U.S. Internet users and others from outside their home counties.

NBC paid $793 million for the exclusive U.S. Summer Olympic broadcast rights, and NBCOlympics.com is the only U.S. website licensed by the International Olympic Committee to broadcast video coverage of the games.

Some Australian broadcast outlets have been forced to shut down their Internet radio broadcasting streams to avoid breaching the International Olympic Committee's strict rules governing use of games material.
Why the fascist media control?
"NBC can't afford for this event to not be what it has been, and better,' said Dean Bonham, chief executive of the Bonham Group in Denver, a sports and entertainment marketing consultant. NBC paid $793 million for the television rights to the Games, and an additional $3.7 billion for rights to the Summer and Winter Olympics through 2012."
The color commentary...
I'd like to personally commend NBC for screwing up yet another of the Olympics opening ceremonies. NBC is the world's gold medal champion in providing sucktacular coverage of one of humanities better events. Surely we can do much, much better than this.
Nike permanently affixes goggles to Olympic swimmers' eyes. Engaget blogger Ryan Block exaggerates a little (the goggles are not permanent) but this is still a must read.
If you're planning on swimming in the Olympics, you've got to be prepared to go the extra mile to shave off a few hundredths of a second off your time. It's not enough to have laser remove all your body hair and wear rubber band underwear anymore, now Nike wants you to use their latest drag-killing device, the strapless water goggles. How does it work? Two independent goggle lenses get afixed to your eye sockets with medical-grade adhesive (read: superglue). Say, while you're at it, why don't you just get your toes and fingers sewn together like a duck?
Security, Security, Security
New Scientist has an article looking at the US$312 million surveillance system installed for the 2004 Olympics in Athens. The eyes and ears consist of 1,000 high-res and infrared videocameras peppering the city. Cell and landline telephone calls are being recorded, converted into text, and "scanned for phrases that could be linked to terrorist activity." The software's developers say it speaks Greek, English, Arabic, Farsi, and other major languages.
Poor attendance?
'We will not be giving away tickets,' said Michalis Zacharatos, chief spokesman for organisers Athoc.

Latest figures from the Games organisers showed that less than 50% of tickets had been sold in 27 out of 54 events on Sunday."

On Saturday, the first full day of competition, weightlifter Nurcan Taylan became the first Turkish woman to win an Olympic gold medal but her feat was achieved in a near empty stadium.
A spectacular opening ceremony? Of course it's the Greek press doing the praise but I like it none the less.
The Greek press is in raptures on Saturday after the opening ceremony for the Athens Olympics.
Olympic butts are a big hit
Seven out of the current top twenty most popular photos on Yahoo! News are of female Olympian asses
— via kottke.org

To be fare this one is technically of breasts, and let's not forget these two Greek divers hugging.

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