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Channel 4’s Paralympic commentary to feature only people with disabilities

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In a step toward even greater representation in the sports world, Channel 4’s Paralympic coverage will use a team of presenters and pundits made up entirely of people with disabilities.

The 2022 Paralympics Games coverage will include live commentary, a highlights show, and reporters on the ground in Beijing, all led by people and former athletes with disabilities. Channel 4 will also air all events with live subtitles and include audio descriptions for event highlights, the Guardian reported.

The UK broadcaster has exclusive rights for the region’s Paralympic coverage this year, and plans to show more than 80 hours of event coverage for the games.

Ian Katz, director of programmes at Channel 4, said in a statement to the press that this was a first in global television and a catalyst for better representation in sports broadcasting. “This is testament to the brilliant disabled presenting talent we have in the UK and underlines our commitment to providing opportunities for people with disabilities and making our output truly representative of the entire population,” he said.

The team includes former Paralympic competitors like Lauren Steadman, a triathlete and four-time Paralympic competitor, and Ellie Robinson, a Paralympic swimming gold medalist. The crew also includes established broadcasters like former rugby player Ed Jackson and wheelchair basketball player Ade Adepitan.

The 2022 Beijing Paralympics will air from March 4-13, and features 736 Paralympians competing in 78 medal events, including alpine skiing, sled hockey, and wheelchair curling.

Over in the United States, NBC has announced its plan to broadcast the Winter Paralympic games in a prime-time slot for the first time in its history. The events will also be live streamed, just like the earlier Olympics coverage. The company says it was inspired by the record-breaking numbers from last year’s Tokyo Paralympics, which was the first time the summer games had aired in a prime-time slot, reported USA Today.

“Just off the massive success of the Tokyo Paralympics, we are committed to growing our Paralympics coverage across our platforms and bringing the extraordinary achievements of Para Winter Games athletes to the American audience,” said Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics.

This year’s coverage will include more than 230 hours of programming and 120 hours of television coverage, the channel says. It will feature closed captioning and live audio description for all programming, even slots outside of prime-time coverage, according to an NBC press release. The NBC website and app have also been enhanced with accessibility features, like support for screen readers.

To tune in to Channel 4’s coverage of the 2022 Paralympic games, visit the official Paralympics page or tune in to the station’s Youtube Channel. To stay up to date with NBC’s coverage, tune in to your local affiliate channel, log onto the NBC Sports app, visit NBCOlympics.com, or get access using a Peacock streaming subscription.

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