Outrage after opening ceremony

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Television viewers in Norway were quick to air their fury at Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) after the state broadcaster kept interrupting what had been billed as live coverage of the opening ceremony for the Nordic World Ski Championships (Ski-VM 2011) Wednesday evening.

NRK viewers only got to see some segments of the opening ceremony for Ski-VM, setting off a storm of complaints. PHOTO: NRK/Views and News

They spread their scorn over Twitter, and news site VG.no could report a “storm” of angry response to both NRK’s switchboard and VG’s as well.

Viewers called NRK’s coverage of the opening ceremonies “a scandal,” “pure rubbish” and worse ,when it became clear that NRK wasn’t really covering the entire ceremony “live” after all. Instead, broadcasting executives interspersed only some live footage of the ceremony into another program called “Førkveld,” which in turn featured what were supposed to be funny skits with comedienne Linda Eide and others.

Viewers got only glimpses of the Norwegian royal family, and missed almost all the speeches and entertainment fro the opening ceremony in downtown Oslo. PHOTO: NRK/Views and News

Many viewers didn’t find them funny at all and were bitterly disappointed to miss most of the opening ceremony’s children’s parade, nearly all the speeches and much of the entertainment. They were not consoled that the ceremony was being broadcast live over NRK’s web-TV and would be re-run on NRK main Channel 1 at 11:15pm.

“What on earth is NRK doing,” fumed one viewer via Twitter. “We wanted to see the entire opening ceremony, not a commercial for Linda Eide’s new show!” Another claimed that he didn’t want to stay up until after 11pm to watch “old news” that should have been carried live as promoted in various media for weeks.

“Can’t we please see the Ski-VM opening and not these meaningless women who sit and talk rubbish?” pleaded another disappointed viewer on Twitter.

“It’s a scandal that NRK isn’t sending the entire opening ceremony live,” tweeted yet another. Still others who’d tuned in to NRK said they felt they’d been cheated.

VG reported there had been broad disagreement among NRK executives over how the opening ceremony was going to be covered, with the Sports Department wanting full live coverage and officials at the Førkveld program wanting their show to air with segments from the ceremony. NRK officials ultimately opted for the latter.

“Everyone now agrees that this was a big mistake,” Sports boss Rune Haug told VG Nett. Not so, countered Førkveld boss Rune Møklebust. “I think we’ve handled this in a super way,” he claimed.

The ceremony itself included a parade of 1,700 Oslo children representing the 50 nations competing in Ski-VM. They marched to traditional Norwegian music including “Valdres Marsjen” and “Holmenkollmarsjen,” while the King’s Guards also marched and played music. The king himself was on hand for the event, which also featured dancers and a string of official opening speeches that viewers didn’t get to see or hear. It was all followed by a short fireworks show.

Official competition begins at 1:30pm Thursday with qualifying for the sprint events, followed by the sprint finals at 3pm. Ski-VM runs until March 6. NRK is the main official broadcaster of the Nordic world championships, promising 10 hours of coverage every day for the next 11 days.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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