Canadian broadcaster cleared over Olympic death video

Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:54pm EST
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By Etan Vessing

TORONTO (Hollywood Reporter) - Canada's TV censors have cleared domestic broadcaster CTV for repeatedly airing graphic video footage of a luger's death at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, responding to 145 viewer complaints, said the CTV was within its rights to show 21-year-old Georgian slider Nodar Kumaritashvili flying off his luge during a practice run and into a support post -- even if YouTube and other online websites scrambled to take the death video down.

"The complainants were concerned that showing the footage of the accident, including the moment of the luger's impact with the post, was extremely disturbing for viewers and was also disrespectful to the deceased luger and his grieving family, friends and fellow athletes," the CBSC panel wrote.

But, despite some TV viewers taking offense, the industry-based TV tastemaker concluded that CTV did not breach industry rules with its news reporting and was fair and responsible with its coverage.

"There were no tight shots reflecting the Georgian athlete's condition after impact," the CBSC panel wrote in its decision. "There was, in other words, no effort to sensationalize or exaggerate the terrible event.

"The panel considers that the shots were fair, sufficiently distant and not in any way an attempt to exaggerate the awful circumstances of the collision with the post."

The luge accident at the Whistler sliding center, falling February 12, just as the Games were starting, caught the CTV broadcast team, part of the Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium, by surprise.

CTV Whistler bureau chief Sarah Galashan was first on the scene to report the accident to Canadians and introduce the accident video.   Continued...