NBCUniversal (NBCU), the US media giant with exclusive live rights to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, has said its coverage of the upcoming event will include “geopolitical context” relating to the host nation China.
The announcement, coming via a video presentation of coverage plans to media, follows repeated urgings from human rights groups - and a US congressional committee - for NBCU to cover China’s alleged multiple human rights violations of recent years, during the Games, which run from February 4 to 20.
Molly Solomon, executive producer and president of NBC Olympics Production, said her division “will cover the issues that impact the games as needed.
“We understand there are some difficult issues regarding the host nation, so our coverage will provide perspective on China’s place in the world and the geopolitical context in which these games are being held.”
Various countries, (including the US and China's neighbor Japan), will diplomatically boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics - meaning governmental members will not attend - over what these nations see as rights abuses against Uyghurs and other Muslim minority ethnic groups in the western Xinjiang region.
China has always denied these allegations.
Human rights groups have been vociferous in their protests against the games, especially over the past 12 months, and have also expressed concerns regarding the potential for journalists (and broadcasters such as NBC) to face censorship, or a lack of filming freedom, when it comes to reporting and commenting on such issues during the Olympics.
In terms of the broadcaster’s discussion of these types of issues at previous Olympics, Solomon said NBCU has a record of “not shying away from these topics”, and that the network would have reporters at all venues, so “if something happens [e.g. a political protest], we’ll have our own cameras on site.”
She added, however, that “the athletes do remain the centerpiece of our coverage.”
NBCU holds rights in the US to the Olympics until 2032 following a $7.65-billion, six-games deal extension agreed in 2014.
Elsewhere, Dan Lovinger, president of advertising sales and partnerships at NBCU, has told media that advertising slots for brands during NBC’s Olympics coverage are almost sold out, with nearly 100 advertisers in place.
He added that the average spend per advertiser is “slightly above” the equivalent number for the last Winter Olympics, Pyeongchang 2018.
Earlier this month, NBCU announced that all of its US coverage of the upcoming Winter Olympics will be simultaneously shown on its Peacock streaming service in addition to linear TV broadcasts.
Live coverage produced by NBCU throughout Beijing 2022 will include primetime shows, the opening and closing ceremonies, and streams across all 15 sports.
Peacock will also have curated clips, virtual channels, and exclusive daily studio programming, with full replays of all competition available on its premium-access tier.
Both the UK and Canadian public-service broadcasters - BBC and CBC - also published detailed multi-platform coverage plans for Beijing 2022 last week.