Same-day viewing is limited to local affiliate Other TV organizations face strict limitations FTC

July 17, 1996|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

So, let's say, you've drifted home from the late showing of "Independence Day" next Monday and you missed NBC's telecast of the finals of the women's 400-meter freestyle swimming race at the Olympics.

No problem, you figure. You'll just catch the highlights on the late news that night on channels 45, 2 or 13, right?

Wrong.

NBC's $456 million purchase of the American television rights to the Summer Olympics means that, unless you're willing to stay up late or to wait until the next day, it will be impossible to see same-day footage of the Games anywhere but NBC, which in Baltimore means Channel 11.

"What we won't be able to do is show same-day highlights, and that will hamstring us, but these things are a fact of life now," said Bruce Cunningham, anchor and sports director at Channel 45.

In a three-page memo dispatched to news organizations, NBC, citing International Olympic Committee guidelines, has laid out strict ground rules for stations governing what they can show and when.

All non-NBC outlets are barred from showing any Olympic footage until the network's coverage for that day goes off the air, which on the East Coast means midnight.

Those stations may show a total of two minutes of excerpts, which can appear in only three newscasts, which must be separated by three hours, meaning a station couldn't carry highlights in both its 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts.

The rules effectively protect the rights-holder from seeing footage that it paid for show up on a competing network or outlet.

"This is pretty standard in the sports TV business," said Ed Markey, an NBC spokesman.

In addition, all outlets except NBC will be banned by the IOC from using footage of any news conference held at the main press center in Atlanta for 30 minutes after the briefing is completed.

ESPN will move "SportsCenter" from 11 p.m. to 11: 30 p.m. during the Games, a spokeswoman said, so that it may air highlights after midnight.

The challenge for local sportscasters during the Olympics will be to find creative ways to cover the Games without highlights, while keeping viewers apprised of other goings-on.

"How's the old saying go? It's better to light a match than to curse the darkness," said Cunningham. "I've got an NFL team in training camp, I've got a major-league baseball team playing. We'll be able to light some other matches during the Olympics."

Pub Date: 7/17/96

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