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Public service broadcasting gone mad

With most BBC staff apparently taking a two-week holiday in Beijing, it’s a surprise there’s anyone left in the country to do those menial tasks like reading the news.

Having expected to present all of its bulletins live from the Olympics, the Beeb’s news chiefs must have been left in a real hole by the unexpected conflict between Russia and Georgia.

After all, you try covering an escalting war when all your resources have been poured into detailed analysis of the bronze medal play-off in the women’s trap shooting.

With the boundaries between the corporation’s news and sports coverage blurring all the time, I’m half expecting to see Matthew Pinsent coming live from the rubble of South Ossetia, while Huw Edwards looks ahead to our medal changes in the men’s coxless fours.

The BBC may have taken some stick for sending more people to the Olympics than the horribly named Team GB but their coverage is nothing if not thorough.

Where else is a man to find a virtual tour of the inside of a gymnastics pommel horse, or an hourly blog from the equestrian team physio?

And this riveting exchange on the archery section of the BBC’s Olympic website is surely worth the licence fee alone:

“Has any competitor ever missed the target totally or even had the arrow go 'doink’ and fall in the grass a few feet away?”

“I think with the level of abilty that we are talking about here and the level of equipment it would be quite difficult to 'doink’.”

It’s public service broadcasting gone mad.

I already know more about the family of 14-year-old diving sensation Thomas Daley than I do about my own, such has been the frenzy of interest in the youngster.

He has certainly got many relatives supporting him in Beijing and there’s probably a BBC reporter attached to each one. The build-up fell a bit flat when he finished last in his opening competition and was then hilariously blamed by his lower-profile team mate.

There are many other areas of the coverage which could have been slightly less extravagant.

For example, heaven knows how much it cost for those opening titles designed by the team behind animated pop group Gorillaz.

Surely they could have done it 'in-house’ by asking someone like Tony Hart to knock up a few drawings instead?

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