By Duncan Mackay

Golden Olympic RingsNovember 29 - NBC, whose coverage was the subject of fierce debate during London 2012, were the big winners at the Olympic Golden Rings, the biennial awards ceremony tonight in Lausanne which honours broadcasters from around the world for their coverage of the Games.

The American broadcaster won gold medals in three of the four categories they were eligble for, including in the Best Olympic Programme category for its overview programme "The Games of the XXX Olympiad".

It also won gold for Best On Air Promotion and in the Best Olympic Feature for its film "Measure and Motion".

The golden hat-trick came despite the controversy that accompanied much of NBC's coverage during the Olympics, which included broadcasting many of the top events, such as the Opening Ceremony and men's 100 metres final featuring Usain Bolt, on tape delay to maximise audiences.

It was also criticised around the world for failing to air a touching tribute to the victims of the 7/7 London bombings during the Opening Ceremony, cutting away to an interview with Michael Phelps instead. 

Other controversies included showing swimmer Missy Franklin with her Olympic gold medal in the 100m backstroke at the same time as an advert for the race which it had yet to show on its main network and later broadcasting a commercial featuring a monkey immediately after an item about gymnast Gabby Douglas and African-American girls.

There was also criticism about the quality of its online coverage, with many internet users complaining either that they could not find the correct stream or it was not working. 

Criticism reached such a crescendo that at one stage the Twitter hashtag #NBCFail was trending.

NBC Olympic logoNBC's coverage may have been controversial in the US but its quality shone through at the Golden Olympic Rings awards

But the judges at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were clearly impressed as the NBC was also runner-up in the Best Athlete Profile category, receiving a silver medal for its feature on David Rudisha, the Kenyan runner who won the men's 800m in London in a world record.

The winner of that category was Brazilian company TV Record for its programme on Sarah Menenzes, who became the first woman from her country to win a gold medal in judo at London 2012 in the -48 kilogram. 

The only other category that NBC missed out on was The Best Olympic Sports Production by Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS), the IOC's broadcast arm which act as the host broadcaster at every Games and which was an in-house award.

It went to the OBS team that covered the sailing at Weymouth and Portland during London 2012.

The BBC, whose coverage was highly praised, surprisingly featured in only one category, winning a silver in the The Best Olympic Programme section for "Super Saturday", which saw Team GB win six gold medals, including three during an amazing 90 minutes in the Olympic Stadium when Mo Farah won the 10,000 metres, Greg Rutherford the long jump and Jessica Ennis the heptathlon.

"To be recognised for our work among the best Olympic broadcasters in the world is particularly rewarding, and further validation of the tireless efforts and constant innovation of our entire Olympic team," said NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel, who was at the ceremony.

"These awards are a credit to the creativity, passion and commitment of our staff and to the support provided to us throughout Comcast and NBCUniversal.

"They are also a credit to the compelling stories and extraordinary feats of the Olympic athletes, whom we consider it a privilege to cover."

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