There is large and then there is immense. There is attempted international communication and then there is creating a surefire communiqué. So it is with respect to the United Kingdom, China and the Beijing Olympics. As Mark Sweney of the guardian.co.uk reports, the United Kingdom’s CCTV has taken some amazing steps towards creating a bond with the Chinese people; the number of Chinese watching the games will be incredible and, the coverage will be nearly 24/7.
In his article, “Beijing Olympics: UK firm behind TV titles for China state broadcaster,” Sweney reports that to begin with, when the Chinese audience tunes in for the televised Olympic Games, they will see an introduction that presents the ancient five elements theory of earth, water, wood, fire and metal interspersed with Olympic events. This was designed by Red Bee Media and is expected to go a long way towards communicating to an audience that does not routinely have television as a large part of their life.
CCTV is thought to be the largest broadcaster in the world. In this Olympic scenario they should be reaching up to 1.5 billion Chinese. Additionally, not only are they going to reach a large number of people but they will reach them for inordinate amounts of time; they expect to be showing 18 hours of daily coverage.
As a writer, I like to think I have a modicum of creativity and imagination; however, Red Bee Media is in a league of its own.
In a related article by Mark Sweney in guardian.co.uk titled “Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn behind BBC’s ‘Monkey’ Olympics ad”, he discusses how the creators of the popular 1970’s children program Monkey, used three characters from the series, Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy as adventurers trying to get to the Beijing Olympic Stadium as essentially an “application” to create the special Olympic introduction for the Beijing Olympic Games.
1.5 billion Chinese, 18 hours of Olympic coverage and ground-breaking cross-cultural communication are making these games special, political intrigue not withstanding. Incidentally, you can view both the introduction and the “application” video in links provided at the end of this article.
I recall back in 1960 when the Olympic Games were in Rome, Italy how there was some difficulty in translation between broadcasts. However, what makes the 1960 experience almost laughable is that television didn’t have today’s technology so film was sent to the States delayed. Of course we also didn’t have 24-hour cable. We only had the three regular channels ABC, NBC and CBS. So, coverage ended up being about two hours per night of, essentially, clips.
- Tom Drury was born in Iowa in 1956. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Drury has published short fiction and essays in The New Yorker, A Public Space, Ploughshares, Granta, The Mississippi Review, The New York Times Magazine, and Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. His novels have been translated into German, Spanish, and French. “Path Lights,” a story Drury published in The New Yorker, was made into a short film starring John Hawkes and Robin Weigert and directed by Zachary Sluser. The film debuted on David Lynch Foundation Television and played in film festivals around the world. In addition to Iowa, Drury has lived in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Florida, and California. He currently lives in Brooklyn and is published by Grove Press.
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