Channel 4 secure 2012 Paralympics rights

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The Independent Online

Channel 4 has been awarded the broadcast rights for the 2012 Paralympic Games.

The commercial channel will broadcast 150 hours of coverage after winning what London organisers have called a "highly competitive tender process".

Although the BBC are host broadcasters for the London Olympics, there was a separate tender for the Paralympics which Sebastian Coe, chairman of London 2012, said had delivered the most lucrative deal in the movement's history

Coe said: "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 and involvement in Paralympic sport in this country.

"We are confident that the quality and depth of the broadcast coverage provided by Channel 4 not just for the 12 days of sport in 2012, but in the two and a half years leading up to the Games, will inspire disabled people of all ages to take up sport and be a catalyst for continued change in public attitudes towards disability.

"The commercial value of this deal has raised the bar financially for the Paralympic movement."

Channel 4's success means that fears the Paralympics would only be available on pay-per-view television have proven unfounded.

Tanni Grey-Thompson, 11-time Paralympic champion, said: "I am pleased that the Paralympic Games will be shown by a terrestrial broadcaster in the UK in 2012.

"Channel 4 has some exciting plans for its coverage and marketing support."

Roger Mosey, the BBC's director of London 2012, said the corporation were disappointed to lose the rights.

He added: "We congratulate Channel 4, and I'm pleased that the argument about free-to-air coverage has been won.

"The Paralympics won't be behind a pay barrier, and they'll be available to anyone who wants to watch them within the UK."

A statement from ParalympicsGB, the movement's governing body in the UK, welcomed the deal.

"We know that LOCOG can be rightly proud of instigating a process to establish the commercial value of the Paralympic Games and we are also proud that the success of the British team over many games has helped create that value," the statement said.

"LOCOG's decision has been based on what they believe is right for the event that will happen in 2012.

"Our challenge, within ParalympicsGB, remains two-fold. We must ensure that the 2012 coverage is a success but we must also have an eye on using the power of a home Games to inspire a change in attitudes to our sport so that the Paralympic movement continues to grow from now until the London Games and is promoted beyond 2012, to 2014 and 2016, when the spotlight of that home Games is turned off.

"As a nation, we only have one chance to make that seismic shift in perceptions."

The deal with Channel 4 includes multi-platform broadcast rights within the UK, with non-exclusive rights in the Republic of Ireland.

Channel 4 will also screen two peak-time 10-part documentaries on the athletes in 2011 and 2012 as well as disability sports in the run up to the Games.

Lord Burns, Channel 4's Chairman Designate, said: "For Channel 4, the London Paralympic Games will be the main event, not a sideshow to the Olympics."

Tessa Jowell, Minister for the Olympics and Paralympics, said: "I congratulate Channel 4 who I'm sure will bring the 2012 Paralympic Games to British TV in style.

"London 2012 will be the biggest Paralympics ever and it is only right that the broadcasters were given the chance to compete to televise them.

"The fact that there was such strong competition shows how the Paralympics are now a top sporting event in their own right and are increasingly important to UK TV audiences."