Paralympians say TV coverage worst ever

7:31 pm on 5 September 2012

New Zealand Paralympians say the coverage being given to the London Games is the worst it has ever been.

Pay-to-view operator Sky Sport is showing two highlights programme a day and is broadcasting the Opening and Closing Ceremonies live. The Games can also be watched live online.

A team of 24 New Zealand athletes are competing at this year's Games and by Wednesday had won four gold, four silver and four bronze medals.

Silver medalist sprinter Kate Horan says she was disheartened to discover that the one-hour highlights packages are not tailored to New Zealand team coverage.

Ms Horan says it is a kick in the face to Paralympians and a shame the public can't see what the athletes can achieve - often against all odds.

"There's been some outstanding performances and they haven't been shown. The general public probably doesn't even realise just how well we're doing and who our athletes are."

Another Paralympian, Mark Inglis, says it is important that the athletes are recognised for reaching the top of their fields.

But Sky Television says it is broadcasting twice as many highlights packages as Television New Zealand did at the last Games in Beijing in 2008. It says cost of keeping a news team in London following the Olympics, which finished in August, was too prohibitive.

The Labour Party says the minimal coverage of the Paralympics shows the need for a strong public broadcaster.

Broadcasting and disability issues spokesperson Clare Curran says Sky is bound by financial considerations - which is why a public station is needed to put public interest first.

"The Government axed TVNZ 7 just a couple of months ago because they said they didn't put a value on it. They said we could pay for public broadcasting and show it on all of our commercial channels.

"Well, we're clearly not providing the New Zealand public with the service that they deserve."

Broadcasting Minister Craig Foss was unavailable for comment, apart from to say that he can't direct broadcasters as to the programmes they choose to screen.