Channel 4 has been awarded the rights to broadcast 150 hours of TV coverage from the London Paralympic games. Lord Burns, the Channel 4 chairman designate, said: “For Channel 4, the London Paralympic games will be the main event, not a sideshow to the Olympics.”
Sky â€“ rather than Channel 4 â€“ was believed to have been the biggest rival to BBC for the rights to the games, but did not submit a bid to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Locog).
Locog’s decision will be a blow to the BBC â€“ which has broadcast previous Paralympics and was keen be seen as home to all Olympic events in 2012.
The Beijing event attracted a record number of viewers for a Paralympic games. The BBC says the last 15 minutes of the television coverage in 2008 was watched by 13.2 million, 23 per cent of the population. This compares with 10.8 million for the Paralympics in Athens and 12.9m for the Sydney games.
Sebastian Coe, the chairman of London 2012, said: “We are absolutely delighted to appoint Channel 4 as our broadcast partner in the UK. Channel 4 shares our vision for the Paralympic games, has a very strong appeal to young people, and will play a hugely important role in increasing public engagement.”