LOS ANGELES (LALATE) – A dubbed “NBC water polo malfunction” along with NBC’s spoiler apology this week has added to debate about the network’s coverage of the London Olympic Games 2012. NBC has been the brunt of criticism for its Olympic Games coverage, initially stemming from its decision to air countless competitions tape-delayed, hours after their conclusions. But now the debate has grown.
The debate increased this week after NBC not only taped delayed swimming events but also revealed their result randomly during one broadcast. The NBC spoiler concerned U.S. swimmer Missy Franklin, especially. “When you’re 17 years old and win your first gold medal, there’s nobody you’d rather share it with… We’re there when Missy Franklin and her parents reunite. A Today exclusive — live from London. Tomorrow” proclaimed the NBC announcer. However, Franklin’s broadcast has yet to even air.
NBC later apologized for the spoiler mistake. “Clearly that promo should not have aired at that time. We have a process in place and this will not happen again. We apologize to viewers who were watching and didn’t know the result of the race.”
The criticism didn’t end there. For the US vs. Spain women’s water polo match, NBA aired the telecast live, rather than tape delayed. While no one would have expected anything peculiar to happen above water, NBC made the erroneous decision to featured an underwater camera, live, during water polo, a sport in which tugging at swimsuits underwater is not out of the ordinary.
During that live telecast, NBC cut to the underwater camera. And therein, the network aired accidentally a live wardrobe malfunction of one female athlete.
Networks consistently try to battle the conflict between live telecasts and accidents. In 2011, Nicki Minaj’s wardrobe malfunction aired live to only part of the U.S. during an ABC GMA appearance. By the time the broadcast was aired tape delayed on the West Coast, the error was corrected.
The most notable example of live broadcast problems was the 2008 case against CBS. That year, the U.S. appeals court ruled what conduct is actionable against a broadcaster, deciding the CBS Janet Jackson Super Bowl case. Jackson was seen exposed by 90 million people for a split second. CBS had apologized and paid a fine for each of its 20 stations.
But the appeals court ruled that CBS can’t be held responsible. The appeals court threw out a $550,000 fine against CBS Corp television stations $550,000 for its broadcast of the flashing of Jackson that happened in the 2004 Super Bowl broadcast on CBS. “Moreover, the FCC cannot impose liability on CBS for the acts of Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, independent contractors hired for the limited purposes of the Halftime Show” said Chief Judge Anthony Scirica.