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Rio 2016 Paralympic Games: Sony to broadcast highlights of Games on two channels

In a not completely ideal move, a major sports channel will partly cover the highlights of the ongoing Paralympic Games.

News 09 Sep 2016, 17:35 IST
Indian Paralympics Contingent 2016
This is India’s largest ever contingent at the Games

After collective outrage over no broadcast of the ongoing Paralympics in India broke out on Wednesday, a mainstream sports channel in the country has taken the first step towards rectifying this.

Indian viewers will now be able to watch the highlights of the Paralympics in two one-hour long sessions across two major Sony Channels. This move comes after a lot of questions were raised about the offhand attitude adopted towards the Games. India has this year sent its largest contingent to the games consisting of 19 athletes.

Last week, the Prime Minister urged the country to support these brave sportspeople and assured everyone that he would be doing the same. The Ministry of Sports further tweeted out that any medal-winning para-athlete will be rewarded with the same amount of cash prizes as the Olympic medallists were. The verbal support seems to be ever present but Indian viewers were stumped after there was no easy way to watch the events live.

Also read: How do we cheer for the Indian Paralympic contingent when there is no channel broadcasting it? 

After several instances of similar indignation, two Sony sports channels - SIX and ESPN will telecast daily highlights of the Games in two sessions of an hour each. This is a step-down considering that nine sports channels in the country were dedicated to Olympic coverage.

This decision also questions the dedication of the authorities towards promoting para-sports within the Indian community.

While it is true that the Paralympics are never broadcast live in the country, this year is an exception. Along with the fact that this year, the cost of broadcast rights was actually financially viable unlike previous years, this year also marks some historical achievements by the Indian para-athletes contingent. The 19 athletes are potential medal hopes as nearly 72% of the contingent are ranked among the top 10 in the official rankings.

This fact makes it even more important that their achievements be highlighted in every way possible.

“It will be completely non-live and coverage will comprise of daily one hour highlights. There will be two separate highlight episodes – Day session and Night session highlights scheduled on different times on SIX and SONY ESPN respectively,” a press release by the channel declared.

Also Read: Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, India: Schedule of Events in IST

A Kolkata-based disability rights activist, Suchandra Ganguly, along with the official chaplain of the Rio Olympics, Zenji Nio, first took up this matter in multiple press conferences last week.

“Paralympics have never been telecast. But this year was a very crucial year. The cost of rights didn’t rise nearly as much from London to Rio as it did from Beijing to London so even modest revenue growth should drive margins. Also, there are benefits of Rio time zone. So we don’t understand why it cannot be broadcast. We saw a tweet from the Prime Minister wishing luck the para-athletes participating in the Games. But how can we cheer for them till we can see them,” Suchandra said.

Zenji Nio has already expressed support for this sentiment and has stated that he will be willing to provide any coverage he can. The deadline to buy live broadcast right for the Games ended nearly two months ago and in this scenario, any help will prove useful.

“This is nothing but discrimination. We are not here to find castigate anyone but to have a course correction before Tokyo 2020. I will spoon feed you with all details. They deserve to be supported and not sympathised,” Zenji said.

This step by Sony comes after the conclusion of the first day at the Rio Paralympics which saw three encouraging performances by the participating Indians.

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