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NBC, Olympics committee tighten restrictions on rebroadcasts

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NBC, Olympics committee tighten restrictions on rebroadcasts07/15/96 GEORGIA--In late June, NBC Sports, the holder of exclusive broadcast rights for the…

NBC, Olympics committee tighten restrictions on rebroadcasts


GEORGIA–In late June, NBC Sports, the holder of exclusive broadcast rights for the Atlanta Olympics, announced guidelines prohibiting all other American broadcasting companies from airing news conferences live from the main press center at the games, or using taped versions of the conferences until 30 minutes after they end.

Non-rightsholders are barred from all Olympic venues and may only bring cameras into the main press center.

The International Olympic Committee sets the regulations for news coverage by non-rightsholders for each Olympics, including rules that limit stations to three programs of Olympic material a day, requiring them to be separated by three hours each and permitting them to contain no more than two minutes of Olympic footage.

Most of these rules have been in effect for many years, the Washington Post reported, but some broadcasters said this is the first time provisions barring live broadcasts have been employed.

Shelby Whitfield, head of ABC Sports radio, told the Post that there has never been any required delay in broadcasting news conferences in the past 14 Olympics that he has covered. He was quoted as saying he believes that the IOC was pressured by NBC to include these restrictions in the guidelines. A spokesman for CBS, which aired the 1994 winter Olympics, said that network did not bar non- rightsholders from airing live news conferences.

NBC paid the IOC $456 million for the exclusive rights to the Olympics, and NBC deserves to have an edge over other companies, the IOC said.

“I can’t tell you how long it’s been around, but it’s not new,” Richard Pound, head of the IOC’s Television and Radio Commission told the Post. “For $456 million it seems to me that a 30-minute edge is not that unreasonable.”

Donna Jonsson, deputy managing director of communications for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, also told the Post that this policy is not new. The 30-minute embargo is included when buying the rights to the Olympics, she said.