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TelevisionWeek is teaming up with TV industry veteran Marianne Paskowski. The blog will give Marianne a forum to convey her deep knowledge of the industry and pass along some of the juicy morsels she's hearing on the grapevine. Marianne has covered the TV industry from the inside out and top to bottom, and TVWeek's readers are bound to benefit from her sharp eyes, ears and wit. TVWeek.com invites readers to jump online, chime in and pick Marianne's brain on the latest industry news.

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Marianne Paskowski



Chinese Sanitize & Stifle Olympics Coverage

August 6, 2008 9:36 AM

Tiananmen Square

With the Summer Olympics just two days away, don’t expect to see the real China as NBC broadcasts the controversial events on its various media outlets.

I’m not just talking about the street vendors who have been displaced, the painted walls covering buildings and slums that the Chinese government doesn’t want the outside world to see, or the removal of dog entrees from about 125 restaurants.

Nor am I just talking about how Chinese citizens cannot drive and how the government has shut down factories, both efforts to abate the Communist nation’s notorious air pollution.

I’m talking about how the Chinese government has shut down access to certain Internet sites that it has deemed inappropriate for journalists covering the event. Clearly the Chinese are not living up to certain promises they made that journalists would have unrestricted access during the games.

Bunk. The latest crackdown of media coverage is that reporters now have to make appointments to report and film in Tiananmen.

I hope the International Olympic Committee has learned something from this fiasco. But I doubt that, don’t you?

And I’m double disappointed that our two presidential candidates are spending millions on ad dollars to get in the face of American viewers.

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Comments (17)

Andy S.:

The Olympics haven't even started yet, so we don't yet know what kind of fiasco we're looking at. One thing we do know: when it comes to the IOC, money talks. If viewers stay away and NBC and its advertisers take a bath, that will get their attention.

As for me, I'm about as excited about watching the Olympics as I am about watching Brett Favre drive his SUV into and out of the Packers' training camp parking lot.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Andy,
Heard the weirdest thing on CNBC today, that one of the Olympics sponsors, the American based McDonald's is rooting for Chinese and not American athletes because it's trying to gain market share in the country with its 100 or so stores. That could backfire,don't you think?

As you say money talks.
M

Raptor Ron:

It gets even worse, Marianne.

The Chinese have banned a speed skater from the games, denying him a visa, because he heads a group of pro-Darfur-relief athletes.

We Americans always justify participating in some totalitarian state's Olympics Games cum propaganda show "because of the athletes." Evidently, the Chinese government doesn't care much about the athletes. What a sorry spectacle for the world at large.

We should limit Olympic venues to OECD countries and let the dictators take the back seats until they clean up their acts. Cleaning up Beijing by disrupting its citizenry to create a make-believe habitable city doesn't cut it!

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Raptor,

Welcome, and I couldn't agree more. Don't know who's at fault, but largely, the IOC, China, NBC, the sponsors and all the media executives who are taking the free junket offered by Nielsen and NBC.Oh, I forgot McDonald's, specifically, and of course Obama and McCain.

I don't know how they can even try to put lipstick on this pig,I am a patriotic person, but I don't buy this bull.

M

Don Wolf:

The Chinese are making fools of us all, and laughing all the way to the bank -- with McCain and Obama helping to heft the wheelbarrow full of ill-gotten Olympics cash.

Then again, the Chinese autocrats are spending an estimated $40 billion on the games to burnish their image internationally. (Previous summer Olympics never cost more than $2 billion, CNN reported). Maybe they are spending more than the ROI justifies?

It's all a crock: a great nation and great people reduced to tawdry levels to prop up the image of a regime that's destined to die anyway. Those politburo bozos think they can perpetuate dictatorial control as China's economy flourishes? No way!

All democracies should have boycotted the IOC decision to pick Beijing from the get-go, and have staged a "Freedom Games" alternative in a nation with a respectable government. Heck, Asbury Park NJ would have been a better venue. It's got "The Boss"!

Marianne Paskowski:

Don,
China's economy is being artificially pumped by the Olympics as greedy U.S. based multinational companies, including GE, owner of NBCU, stoke the flames, no longer embers.

Look at how China has traded, 40 percent down and the forecast for emerging nations, the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and Brazil} doesn't look good from this investor's side of the table.

Welcome to the discussion. and BTW, I own no media stocks.
M

Dr. Foster K. Williamson, PhD:

Dear Ms. Paskowski:

At The Institute, we haven't been able to resist the statistical temptation to "run some numbers" on Beijing Olympics audience projections. Frankly, we're astounded that such a populous nation would produce such anemic projections, once we loaded some surprisingly robust factors into our log-linear model.

We predict, for example, that cutting dog meat from local menus as you point out, will actually boost the Chinese market sales of McDonald's by an estimated 86.7%, depending on how many dogs the authorities have managed to round up from the streets.

Similarly, particulate raster scans by satellite imply that heavy-breathing athletes will experience 34.7% more tuberculosis cases within the next 10 years than if they competed in, say, Iceland.

On a less consequential note, sadly, the media buys by presidential candidates Obama and McCain of Olympic-coverage avails will depress the Tibetan-American vote for either candidate by 85.3%, we predict. Then again, no presidential candidate has ever won the White House without carrying the Tibetan expat vote in Cucamunga, CA since the Tibetan uprising of the 1950s.

We humbly suggest that McCain and Obama withdraw their advertisements on Olympic programs and concurrently reassure American dog lovers--statistically a high voter turnout cohort--that they prefer cat meat.

Respectfully submitted,

Doc Willy

Cruiser:

Yo, Blondie --

Nice to see the graphics touch TV Week added to your blog. Last time I saw "socialist reality" artwork like that, Nikita Khrushchev ordered it up for his dacha. What's TV Week up to? China's Willing Propagandist? The Crain Comm panjandrums must have been too busy snarfing down some political egg roll to have actually read your column!

Cruisin not bruisin

Marianne Paskowski:

Cruiser,

I loved the touch from TV Week, the art work with the Communist flags. A picture is worth a thousand words. Companies dealing with China, whether GE/NBCU or the sponsors still have to deal with a Communist nation.

Many years ago, 20 actually, I wrote a story about one of the first companies to crack the Chinese market, John Deere. The American tractor company got screwed. People still Google that story. Need I say more?

Behave yourself,
M

Thurston Last:

You put Brazil's name twice in the BRIC. Kind of like the ADBAA in the movie Dodgeball (the American Dodgeball Association of America), but I digress.

I'm not really all that excited about the Chinese Games myself (I have to refrain from using the "O" word because they're so protective of the word, they're suing elementary schools that use it for their math, science, and field day contests [and you can Google that too]). Eagerly awaiting the disaster that is the 2012 Games in London, but not the Chinese Games. The Athens Games weren't all that if memory serves correctly. They weren't under an oppressive, censoring society, but there were many problems within those games. The Salt Lake Games were politically corrupt, but people gloss over that too.

It's times like these that I miss the Goodwill Games. Remember those? Turner used to have a lot of them. Then they got by Time Warner, and they sapped the energy out of the room. The Goodwill Games would be welcome in light of the growing arrogance and greed of the IOC, but alas, Time Warner is so idiotic.

But come on, Marianne. You're letting McCain off easy with the equivalant of a finger wagging rather than the shellacking you gave Obama. McCain's spending more than Obama.

Alas, these corporate interests are so willing to appease their Chinese overlords that they don't care about their American origins. It's shameful really. Remember back in '84 when McDonald's had a contest that if an American won, they'd have to give away food? They had fixed the contests so that events where Russian competitors usually dominated would be the picks. They had no idea about the Soviet boycott until it was too late, and they gave away a lot of food. The Simpsons parodied that situation well on the Lisa's First Word episode.

In the end, these games won't matter. Everyone we rooted for will be forgotten. Life goes on. Don't sweat it.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Thurston,
I barely remember Ted's Goodwill Games, never made any money. The point about the Chinese Olympics is this, the geopolitical issues have never been so heightened as they are right now.

Throw in the global economy, terrorist threats, and the ability of the Chinese government to straddle all of this, spells nothing short of a nightmare to me, for all involved.

I don't care about the Olympics perse, but all of the global tensions, and implications, that are bubbling up.

Thanks Thurston, your historical perspective brings a lot to this little party of bloggers.

M

Marianne Paskowski:

Dr. W,

As the old adage goes,if you can't baffle them with your brilliance, baffle them with your BS.

You are funny tho...

M

Jason:

Thank God for Big Brother, Wipeout, CBS's sure to be cancelled Swingtown, the finale of the Mole, and three non-Olympic cable news channels.

Jason:

Oh, and throw in Saving Grace over on TNT too. That along with a couple major league baseball games should do more than enough to get me by during the two weeks of never ending coverage.

Marianne Paskowski:

Jason,
Read you loud and clear, I turned on the NBC local news at 11 p.m. and it wasn't there, all Olympics.

M

Kathy:

Not to mention how they inhumanely trapped and killed all those cats to clean up the streets before the Olympics began. I don't think they know about the word "humane" as it pertains to animals.

Marianne Paskowski:

Kathy,
Or people somany Chinese citizens who don't own their homes were moved out of sight to make room for this profit, greed driven travesty.

Thanks for reminding me about the cats,
M

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