Networks: Producing Olympic Ice Hockey for a National Television Audience

in Sociology of Sport Journal

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Margaret MacNeillUniversity of Toronto

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This paper presents an ethnographic study of the Canadian Television Network’s (CTV) production of the 1988 Winter Olympic ice-hockey tournament. Interview data and media documents are analyzed to uncover how CTV strategically employed hockey as a spectacle of accumulation to boost ratings, expand market positioning, and to attract sponsors while blocking media competitors. At another level of understanding, ethnographic observations of the televisual labor process provide insights into how Olympic broadcasting constitutes a form of mediated communication or a spectacle of legitimation. Observations illustrate how the crew remade the live sporting event into a series of select cultural images. The manufacturing of Olympic images is revealed to be a social process that reproduces select systems of meaning, reinforces particular modes of media production, and strengthens monopolistic network relationships.

Margaret MacNeill is with the School of PHE at the University of Toronto, 320 Huron St., Toronto, ON, M5S 3J7.

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