HRC Blog

As the Olympics Come to an End, NBC Must Report on Russia’s Anti-LGBT Situation

In the first two full weeks of Olympic coverage and with only 3 days left to go, NBC has dedicated 1 hour, 49 minutes, 35 seconds across NBC, NBC Sports, MSNBC, CNBC and USA to discussing Russia’s anti-LGBT laws. Since Olympic coverage began on Thursday, February 6, HRC has been monitoring the official networks NBC has dedicated to airing the Sochi Games, and tracking when and where they’ve aired reporting on the horrible situation facing LGBT people under a discriminatory government led by President Vladimir Putin. 

In January, NBC's Olympics executive producer Jim Bell told reporters, "We're not there to poke a sharp stick in anybody's eye, but we're not going to shy away from reporting anything either.”

So today, as we head into the final weekend of the Sochi Games with the Closing Ceremony taking place this Sunday, we’re releasing detailed analysis showing where and when NBC’s reporting on LGBT issues in Russia actually aired so far.

Coverage by network:

Coverage by Network

Coverage by Network

A vast majority of NBC’s coverage of LGBT issues in Russia aired on MSNBC, which already devotes as much airtime – if not more – to reporting on issues of LGBT equality as other news networks.  MSNBC has also received considerably less viewers than NBC.  If the amount of reporting that aired on MSNBC had aired on NBC instead, the coverage would have been seen by nearly 300 million television viewers. 

Coverage of Anti-LGBT Russia

Reporting on the persecution of LGBT in Russia has also diminished as time passed. The first half of the Olympic Games saw over three times as much reporting on the situation as the second half.

Coverage of Anti-LGBT Russia

The fact of the matter is, LGBT people in Russia are in danger.  Every day we hear of another violent attack or senseless arrest.   Since the games began, over a dozen people have been arrested in Russia for violating the so-called “propaganda” law.  There is no doubt that this is a serious news story worthy of extensive coverage.

This Sunday, millions of American television viewers will tune in to watch NBC’s exclusive broadcast of the Olympic Closing Ceremony.  And NBC has announced it will air a documentary about the infamous Nancy Kerrigan / Tonya Harding incident from 1994.  During the 2012 London Olympics, NBC aired a primetime segment about Greenwich Mean Time and the invention of the wristwatch.

Failing to air adequate coverage of the host country’s government led campaign of homophobia and transphobia would not be in keeping with NBC’s stated commitment. 

On Monday, we’ll let you know how NBC did.

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