Channel 7’s commentary decision torched
Caroline Wilson has given a big thumbs down to Channel 7's remote calls of AFL games this season and criticised the broadcaster for not sending any of its commentary team to Queensland ahead of the finals series.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced Seven to have its commentators call games off television screens instead of attending the action in stadium and has been unclear on how it plans to approach the finals, which start at the end of the month.
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Melbourne-based talent including Brian Taylor, James Brayshaw and Hamish McLachlan knocked back an invite by the AFL to join its travelling party which relocated to the Gold Coast recently.
It could leave SA-based frontman Bruce McAvaney and Perth's Basil Zempilas - who are both in states whose borders are open with Queensland - as the key figures at the ground when the Gabba hosts the grand final on October 24.
"Channel 7 chose not to send one member of their AFL commentary team to the AFL-sponsored Gold Coast hub two weeks ago," Wilson told Footy Classified. "The AFL was disappointed.
"Seven say they'll get their A-team there in some fashion for the finals but frankly, as a viewer, I'm disappointed too.
"Footy, any sport, is just not the same when it's called from the television and I really hope this COVID-dictated policy does not continue in the future. I include radio in this … when I say it's just not the same when you're not there - and the commentators are our storytellers.
"So unless JB, BT and Hamish and their Victorian-based commentators get special permission and are prepared to quarantine under onerous circumstances for two weeks before the finals, it's over to Bruce, Basil and maybe even Dennis Cometti - who can travel to Queensland - to step in and be our first-hand eye witnesses to what is going to be a historic finals series."
There have been rumours the remote approach could continue in future seasons because of the reduced travel costs for the broadcaster but Wilson implored Seven not to go down that path.
Her comments sparked a spirited debate with co-panellist Craig Hutchison, who runs the SEN radio network and said her position was "tone-deaf".
Hutchison: "Could not disagree with you anymore."
Wilson: "Well surprise, surprise."
Hutchison: "I feel that's a really shallow view."
Wilson: "You are so conflicted, Craig. You run a media company and you're trying to save money. I'm telling you, as a viewer, Seven are doing their best, Fox are doing their best, they're doing a good job, but it's not the same when they're not there."
Hutchison: "The coverage has been absolutely outstanding, it's lost little and they haven't asked their key assets to go and quarantine in a dark room for 14 days and be away from their family."
Wilson: "The AFL were going to pay and they could have quarantined on the Gold Coast."
Hutchison: "These guys have all got other commitments. Brian's got other commitments that feed his family. So have other Melbourne-based commentators."
Wilson: "Craig, not one member. Not one member of their commentary team."
Originally published as Channel 7's commentary decision torched