A comparative analysis of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games broadcasts in the UK and Japan

Published: September 1, 2017

The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games was hosted by Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Paralympic Games aim to make for a more “inclusive society” where all the people, regardless of with or without impairment, live equally. The authors explored how broadcasting could contribute to attaining this goal, by recording the coverage of the Rio Paralympics aired on Channel 4 and NHK to analyse the scale and content of their broadcasts.

Channel 4 and NHK both allocated the largest-ever airtime to Paralympic coverage and fully utilised their digital services including the Internet along with broadcasting. Both broadcasters also share in common that they provided easy-to-understand explanations of the rules and classification—a unique feature of the Paralympics. Meanwhile a distinctive difference was that Channel 4 featured a large number of persons with an impairment as presenters and commentators. How to introduce Paralympians’ profiles also differed: NHK focused on their athletic abilities as sports persons while Channel 4 told athletes‘ stories including how they had overcome the impairment.

On the whole NHK devoted to broadcasting the Paralympics as a “sports event” just like the Olympics. On the contrary, the approach taken by Channel 4 was to portray Paralympians‘ humanity with an aim to make the Paralympics more resonated with the viewers. Besides, almost every night Channel 4 inserted a report that would provoke thoughts on issues related to persons with an impairment and society during its night-time live coverage. The broadcaster‘s decision to schedule the report during prime time for family viewing not only conveyed the excitement of sports but also raised a question on society and presented Paralympic coverage‘s potential to evoke public awareness for social reform for building a more “inclusive society.”

The NHK Monthly Report on Broadcast Research

Yoshiko Nakamura and Seiji Watanabe, NHK Broadcasting Culture Research Institute


in Japanese