The unfolding scandal about widespread wiretapping by New Corp International Newspapers is impacting media in the sports world. The details of electronic spying on individual players will continue to be investiagted. But the evidence of foul play has been serious enough for the London 2012 organization to end earlier plans for a unique media partnership with News Corp International.
Last year, London 2012 and News Corp announced plans for a special media status for News Corp during the 2012 Summer Games. This would go far beyond the event and athlete press conference coverage of past Olympics. Most athletes will arrive in the Olympic Village weeks before the Olympic Games start. London 2012 and News Corp had planned to produce over 1,000 exclusive interviews and athlete profiles, as well as superb action photography. The concept was to reinforce and personalize the entire communications strategy for the 2012 Summer Games. This was conceived as a “win-win” strategy that could help athletes in less covered sports like fencing and badminton win sponsorships.
One of the most important roles of the International Olympic Committee is to help train future leaders. So a special media partnership with a media organization embroiled in a wiretapping scandal being investigated by the UK and USA will not be possible.
NBC Universal Sports of Westlake Village is one of the few official Olympic news organizations with a large enough staff and the sports expertise to fill this important role. Most other Olympic news organizations that qualify as rights holders are also “legacy broadcasters” like the public broadcasting units of Germany and Japan. These have been cutting staff and sports coverage as they loose audience share to private news organizations. But many of these private news organizations are owned by News Corp.
It reamins to be seens how Olympic sponsors AT+T and BT will be affected. Neither of these telecommunications carriers directed the News Corp wiretapping. But both firms have customer privacy policies that are now being questioned in light of the News Corp wiretapping scandals. Olympic officials will be watching to make the high standards of the Olympics are maintained in the future.