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October 10, 2015

NBC News President Finally Bans Video of Luger's Death

by Bob Sassone, posted Feb 15th 2010 1:30PM
NBC logoNews is a tricky thing. If you have footage of something, particularly something that is shocking or important or "breaking news," you're almost obligated to show it. If you don't show it, people would start to wonder why you're not showing it, especially if it has something to do with a major event that you as a network are covering. For example, the death of Olympic luger Nodar Kumaritashvili.

But when does "news" turn into exploitation and "too much?" That's what NBC was facing with the footage of Kumaritashvili's death before the Olympics even started. Some (including me) thought that they showed it way too much. Over and over again, often in slow motion and with commentary. They even showed it at the start of the opening night ceremonies and viewers weren't happy about that at all.

Now NBC News President Steve Capus has ordered that the footage not be shown again without his permission. Now, that does leave things open a little bit, if Capus believes that a news story warrants showing the footage. But this weekend Bob Costas told viewers that they would not play the video again during NBC's Olympic coverage.

Actually, CTV's web site showed the accident live during their coverage of the games.

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I did not see the footage myself however I get the point. It was a tragedy that did not need or should be aired. I for one have not and will not seek out this video to view. To understand that this situation occurred and a life was lost is enough without being exposed to the actual event. Can't help if it is on live feed but to air it again is just exploitation and cruel. I can't help but believe that the decision to repeatedly show this footage was motivated by the economics of the network. For me this illustrates the kind of society we live in where people make decisions only to benefit themselves with little or no regard for the victim or their families. Shame on NBC and other networks that showed this footage. You should be ashamed!

February 16 2010 at 2:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Started watching the Opening Ceremonies at 7:30 as a treat for my 3 and 5 year old on Friday night. As we settled in, we were then was treated to footage of the luger's death over 3 times in a row, without warning (or at least one that could be heard over their talking). I was shocked. I figured that they would discuss it, but not show anything. Boy was I naive. I'd take my kids seeing Janet's wardrobe malfunction 500 times over in slow motion over what they saw on Friday night. My kids are now scared of the Olympics. Makes it really easy not to watch.

February 15 2010 at 9:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

To the same people who view violent video games/movies and live in the real world. I feel sympathy for his/her family (didn't see it and know that an Olympic Athlete died). Who cares? How many people viewed the accident in which Earnhart (don't care to know how it is spelled) died? Tragedies happen. Anyone who enjoys war documentaries are vile and cold-blooded death hungry viewers? or are they just watching something that they enjoy. If it is show in 3-D, kaledo vision, I wouldn't care. If it is shown for a new broadcast to show the story, I support it. Really people, shame on you for watching the Twin Towers fall repeatedly, and ask to have this banned.

February 15 2010 at 7:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's about damn time that they disallowed the footage. It's completely heartless to show it, warning or not. There's a human life that was lost! You can easily describe it and get it across. Trust me, after reading articles and hearing news stories, I got how brutal and terrible it was.

But showing images of the death--especially video footage. I completely agree with yaksplat. Showing a livefeed is one thing ONCE. But showing it over and over is just terrible. I flipped over to NBC to watch coverage of the opening ceremonies, not to see an untimely death.

February 15 2010 at 6:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
O Nikos

Political correctness gone waaaaaay too far... Yes a warning should be necessary which is what happened in the opening ceremony... Then if after that you watch it, it's your own decision... Can't be outraged and complain about NBC after that...

How can you talk about the Luge competition being changed because of a deadly accident and not show it??? It's not like we saw him bleeding to death on the video...

February 15 2010 at 2:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to O Nikos's comment

I'd consider them showing him lifeless, bloodied and recieving cpr a bit far. They exploited the crap out of his death and it was disgusting. I can understand it being shown if it was a live feed, but showing it again and again was insane. Let's do it in slow mo this time. Okay, now show him covered with blood. Disgusting.

February 15 2010 at 3:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Harry Fuller

I think the simple fact that someone was killed on the track is enough to talk about the competition being changed. There is no need to show the video. Seeing it adds nothing positive to the conversation.

February 15 2010 at 3:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

After seeing that, it was my first and last night watching the Olympics.

That really crossed the line.

Interesting that they ban other networks from using Olympic video but freely shared the death video.

February 15 2010 at 1:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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