ON AND OFF THE AIR:
* Paula Zahn of CBS, co-anchoring the network's prime-time coverage of the Winter Olympic Games beginning tomorrow (8 p.m., Channel 11), has not strayed far from her background as a newscaster.
Earlier this week on "CBS This Morning," she had a tough piece about air pollution in the scenic region of Albertville, France, and the significant local opposition to the staging of the games there.
"We have no air pollution here," said a French official. But cameras clearly showed the familiar haze of industrial discharges and automobile exhaust trapped in the spectacular mountain valleys.
"As a news person, I'm curious about everything. . . .I think we're going to report far beyond the results every day," said Ms. Zahn in a telephone interview from broadcast headquarters in Moutier, France.
"Just looking back four years, it's a completely different world," she noted. And she told of interviewing a coach for figure skaters on the former Soviet Union team, which now is an uncomfortable collection of athletes from the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Before leaving for France, the coach confided, one of her daily job duties was to stand in food lines for her skaters, so they did not have to interrupt their training.
* Beginning next week, cable's TNT service is screening a total of 45 hours of Olympics coverage, much of it live. The TNT segments are scheduled from 1 to 6 p.m. on weekdays. (An exception is Monday, Feb. 17, when CBS is taking advantage of the President's Day holiday to air it's own 1 to 6 p.m. broadcast.)
"For less than 10 percent of the rights to the games, we're going to have more than 10 percent of the coverage," says TNT spokesman Mark Parkman.
The cable network paid $20 million for its portion of the coverage, compared to CBS' $243 million contract cost.
While CBS has the right to embargo events from appearing on TNT, to enhance the prime-time packaging, Mr. Parkman notes, "they can't stop us from hustling."
For example, he says one TNT goal is "to show every American athlete at least once in our 45 hours."
TNT's anchor crew includes Nick Charles, who was on WJZ-Channel 13 in Baltimore in the mid-1970s, Fred Hickman and John Naber.