A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
With China set to host the 2022 Winter Games in two weeks’ time, Olympic broadcaster NBCUniversal says it will acknowledge the “geopolitical context” of the games, but the athletes will remain the “centerpiece” of the coverage.
The network touched on the topic of China during a presentation for reporters on Wednesday. But the answers are not going to satisfy or silence the peacock network’s many critics.
There was news on several other fronts, as well:
– USA Today’s Christine Brennan scooped that “NBC Sports will not send any of its announcing teams to China.” A network rep said this was “due to Covid concerns.” They will work out of the NBC Sports hub in Stamford, Connecticut instead…
– Execs acknowledged that navigating Summer Games content was a chore, and they swear that it’s going to better this winter: The Peacock streaming service will be “your home for all things Olympics…”
– Ad sales and partnerships president Dan Lovinger said that while there is “still some work to be done between now and the end of the Games,” Beijing ad sales are “exactly at the same spot we were heading into the Pyeongchang Games” in 2018…
As Sheila Dang and Helen Coster wrote for Reuters Wednesday, Beijing’s Winter Games “have been marred in controversy over the past year, and the United States and other governments have announced a diplomatic boycott of the event for what it says are rights abuses against Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang region.” Human rights and press advocacy groups have specifically raised concerns about NBC’s coverage.
Here’s what Molly Solomon, executive producer and president of NBC Olympics Production, said during Wednesday’s video spiel: “We are going to be focusing on telling the stories of Team USA and covering the competition. But the world, as we all know, is a really complicated place right now. And we understand that there’s some difficult issues regarding the host nation. Our coverage will provide perspective on China’s place in the world, and the geopolitical context in which these games are being held. But the athletes do remain the centerpiece of our coverage.”
Solomon also cited the NBC News Beijing bureau as a resource. Plus, per TheWrap’s Tim Baysinger, “NBC’s coverage will feature two experts on China: Andy Brown, editorial director of Bloomberg New Economy who has worked in Asia for 35 years (he was previously the China editor for The Wall Street Journal), and Jing Tsu, a Yale Professor of China studies…”