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Durban Sandshark

Past Olympics Media Coverage

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At some point we had to know that eventually we would eventually discuss past Olympic Games media coverage in a thread all its own, given the incredible success Torino, Beijing, Vancouver, London, Sochi, and now Rio (even the Commonwealth Games and FIFA World Cup ones) have with its respective media threads and even with Athens' threads regarding coverage that was the forerunners to what we inject now. Being as someone who's known for Olympic media specialization, this is no surprise coming from me. Here, one of the objectives here is to take a look back, recall, discuss, debate, and witness the evolution of Olympic media coverage eras over the decades in all of its various forms from around the world. As I write this, the London threads are still active and not closed, so I and others can still put up some info that was previously missed at its peak whenever necessary. This is where we would discuss about Olympic coverage from up to Vancouver. Should London and perhaps Sochi down the road close up with both now past Olympics, we can talk about and add them too! Don't want to leave every stone unturned and aim to archive things that not even Wikipedia could do right now! We'll add past Olympic TV promos and broadcasts to this too

What I have with me as I write this inaugural post here is a copy of Sports Illustrated's 1984 Summer Olympic preview issue that I just bought for a dollar at a book fair at my college. Wow! You know it's now considered old school when SI's Olympic previews back then, like 30 years ago, were thick like a coffee table book! SI's more recent Olympic previews, both Winter and Summer, are no longer THAT thick! :lol: ABC was a trailblazer in its coverage back then, proclaiming it as 'the greatest undertaking in TV history" with its exclusive live coverage of 186 hours for the US, "more than the last three televised Summer Games combined" (not counting NBC's aborted Moscow 1980 planned coverage of 150 hours), and overseeing other nations' coverage transmissions with ABC's "Olympic Tradition Continuing...". But over the years SI's previews reduced in length through recent Olympics to the point of being comparable to SI's standard-length issues, save for the swimsuit issue. But that's a reflection of many things like with, with its growing and diversifying American sports fan base, not as interested in the Olympics like in years past. Still a massive tentpole sports and media event but audiences are fragmented now. More casually followed these days with a still (and perhaps growing) significant hardcore fan base like here even as the IOC has grown and richer in stature since 1984. Just now reading but will take a while to fully study it. Does have its medal predictions that it's still famous for come Olympic time.

Speaking of studying, Olympic media coverage has been academically studied and indeed written into a book or two with one covering how NBC handled Athens 2004 because of the massive TV fee spent to the IOC to have the US TV rights, its clout, and its combined wall-to-wall coverage in various events around the clock through its family of networks. Feel more than free to happily contribute to this add stuff around the world! :)

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OK, it was more like 180 hours out of ABC in its 1984 Los Angeles broadcast. But 186 hours was something it planned, according to its print ad on that same SI 1984 Summer Olympic preview. Like with a lot of Olympic TV programming in plenty of places back then, especially in the USA, there was a lot of bouncing around and back and forth in the Olympic TV programming for extended events prior to of course cable channels and the Internet covering them in full. Something we'll discuss later.

I wouldn't mind to start things off with this new thread to better understand what I'm talking about here. I'll start with a research paper centering on KBS' and MBC's host broadcast of the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics and of the related programming leading up to that. KBS had its three channels to cover it with mostly KBS 1 and KBS 2 providing the bulk of them with 258 in the former and 255 in the latter with KBS 3 having over 21 hours. MBC devoted 71% of its programming during the Seoul run to the Olympics. Also contains a concise history of South Korean Olympic TV and radio broadcasting:

http://osc.dyu.edu.tw/olympic/con_htm/c3pdf/c3004.PDF

Compilation of Seoul 1988 main intros to several worldwide Olympic coverage broadcasters including the BBC, NBC, Network 10, KBS, NHK, DR, ARD, Televisa, ZDF, NHK, Antenna 2 (now France 2), and TBS, In fact, several broadcasters worldwide adopted NBC's version (or was that the SORTO one) and used that as the main broadcast intro back then like Sweden's SVT:

A couple of short 1984 CBC Olympic promos encouraging Canadians across the nation to "celebrate the Olympic experience" from Los Angeles:

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No discussion about past Olympic media coverage would obviously be complete without any references to the 1992 Olympic Triplecast, that notoriously ill-fated collaboration idea between NBC and Cablevision for Barcelona. It was compared to the 1985 New Coke formula and to Heaven's Gate even before it started. Yes, it was massive financial failure. Catering to those US Olympic fans who sought more Olympic TV coverage--and global AND live with no commercials at that!--than what NBC proper could offer with its restrictions, still had to go around its weekday soaps back then. Looking at it now, it actually was a very good idea but American TV viewers weren't quite ready for it, especially when then-high package prices (from $95-170) were issued on cable with its 1-800-OLYMPIC phone order line. I don't think people would pay for a one-time special sports event like the Olmypics when they paid even less on its cable boxes. Got far short of its subscriber goal of 1.6-2.8 million US subscribers (only 200,000 in the end). Lost over $100 million with Cablevision covering half under an agreement.

You could say the Olympic Triplecast died for NBC's future cable Olympic sins. Also keep in mind at the time the transition of many televised sports events moving towards the cable/satelitte side from FTA during the 1990s. Cable TV was still a relatively new thing. The feed was the ORT global feed with the intros and official Barcelona Olympic graphics--and shaped NBC's subsequent plans in its Olympic coverage henceforth, like relying more on its sister cable channels than going PPV. When the public prospects and reception weren't good, NBC and Cablevision started offering it for free for one weekend with a mosaic channel to lure people to this experimental pay-per-view service. I remember seeing this very mosaic channel on CNBC with the only audio coming off-camera by Don Gould while channel surfing at an old friend's house one Friday with track and field going on, I also spotted a preliminary men's basketball game between Venezuela and Puerto Rico on that. Coverage was live for 12 hours straight from 4am-4pm US CT on three channels Red (basketball, volleyball, handball, baseball, and water polo), White (such as gymnastics, boxing, rowing, equestrian, and other minor sports), and Blue (swimming in the first week and track and field in the second) with repeats of those events later that day on that same time block. It also made NBC'S mainstream coverage look silly, hyperproduced, denigrated, and schmaltzy by comparision.

Recalls the failure of the Olympic Triplecast. Thought it would make money but had to admit its very low reception

http://london2012.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/25/happy-anniversary-triplecast/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Another Olympic Triplecast retrospective, focusing on laying the groundwork for NBC's present Olympic coverage from that humbling learning experience:

http://sportsrants.com/media/2012/07/25/olympics-triplecast/

Richard Sandomir wondered back in 1992 will succeed or flop when it seemed innovative

http://www.nytimes.com/1992/06/29/sports/olympics-triplecast-an-olympian-blunder-or-innovation.html

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A Barcelona Olympic studies research document focusing on the various global coverage of the Barcelona 1992 Opening Ceremony segment by segment and how they all each comment on Catalan, Spanish, and European culture and those televised contructions of those identities

http://olympicstudies.uab.es/pdf/wp033_eng.pdf

TV Globo's intro its Brazilian FTA coverage of the Atlanta 1996 Centennial Olympic Games with the discus thrower sending his gold disc from Barcelona to across the Atlantic to Atlanta, representing the transfer between those two cities

Following was the first airing of the BBC Olympic Grandstand opening intro that was used throughout the BBC's coverage of the 1984 Los Angeles

Summer Olympic Games with columns forming from the Olympic rings and Vangelis' "Chariots of Fire" score. The BBC, since cutting back on its sports coverage now with satelitte TV in the 1990s like Sky Sport and much later BT Sport, doesn't even call its Olympic coverage under the Grandstand banner anymore (and the Olympics themselves have no doubt changed so much since this rejuvenation). This is actually what turned out to be an extended version as it was aired on the day before the Opening Ceremony that was Friday, July 27 1984 on BBC1 with the BBC starting its TV coverage with head BBC sports anchor Sir Des Lynam discussing the torch relay through the streets of Los Angeles. Thus you get to see montages from mostly British Olympians like Allen Wells, Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett, Daley Thompson, Sir Steven Redgrave, and Zola Budd along with notable foriegn ones like Carl Lewis, Edwin Moses, Evelyn Ashford, and Mary Decker with legends like Owens, Spitz, Zatopek, Viren, Korbut, and Stevenson at the beginning signifying the rich Olympic past. Always one of my favorite Olympic TV intros anywhere.

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Thanks for posting this video. Love the BBC intro for 1984. A mix of old and new. :)

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Does anyone have the media coverage from Sydney 2000?

I have got quite a bit on my hard drive of the build up to 2000 and some coverage during the games. Mainly channel 7 Australia coverage.

Edited by micheal_warren

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I have got quite a bit on my hard drive of the build up to 2000 and some coverage during the games. Mainly channel 7 Australia coverage.

I'd love to see some of that.

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I have got quite a bit on my hard drive of the build up to 2000 and some coverage during the games. Mainly channel 7 Australia coverage.

That sounds interesting.

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I have a lot of Sydney coverage from both NBC and from CBC. Still interesting all these years later to see the contrast between the 2.

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No discussion about past Olympic media coverage would obviously be complete without any references to the 1992 Olympic Triplecast, that notoriously ill-fated collaboration idea between NBC and Cablevision for Barcelona. It was compared to the 1985 New Coke formula and to Heaven's Gate even before it started. Yes, it was massive financial failure. Catering to those US Olympic fans who sought more Olympic TV coverage--and global AND live with no commercials at that!--than what NBC proper could offer with its restrictions, still had to go around its weekday soaps back then. Looking at it now, it actually was a very good idea but American TV viewers weren't quite ready for it, especially when then-high package prices (from $95-170) were issued on cable with its 1-800-OLYMPIC phone order line. I don't think people would pay for a one-time special sports event like the Olmypics when they paid even less on its cable boxes. Got far short of its subscriber goal of 1.6-2.8 million US subscribers (only 200,000 in the end). Lost over $100 million with Cablevision covering half under an agreement.

You could say the Olympic Triplecast died for NBC's future cable Olympic sins. Also keep in mind at the time the transition of many televised sports events moving towards the cable/satelitte side from FTA during the 1990s. Cable TV was still a relatively new thing. The feed was the ORT global feed with the intros and official Barcelona Olympic graphics--and shaped NBC's subsequent plans in its Olympic coverage henceforth, like relying more on its sister cable channels than going PPV. When the public prospects and reception weren't good, NBC and Cablevision started offering it for free for one weekend with a mosaic channel to lure people to this experimental pay-per-view service. I remember seeing this very mosaic channel on CNBC with the only audio coming off-camera by Don Gould while channel surfing at an old friend's house one Friday with track and field going on, I also spotted a preliminary men's basketball game between Venezuela and Puerto Rico on that. Coverage was live for 12 hours straight from 4am-4pm US CT on three channels Red (basketball, volleyball, handball, baseball, and water polo), White (such as gymnastics, boxing, rowing, equestrian, and other minor sports), and Blue (swimming in the first week and track and field in the second) with repeats of those events later that day on that same time block. It also made NBC'S mainstream coverage look silly, hyperproduced, denigrated, and schmaltzy by comparision.

Ahh, the Triplecast. Both the best thing and the worst thing ever to happen to Olympic television. No question it was a good idea, albeit an idea ahead of its time. The problem was that it was marketed and executed as badly as it could have been, so it goes down in history as 1 of the biggest disasters ever in sports television rather than something that was innovative and pioneering like it should have been remembered.

The issues with the Triplecast were two-fold. The big one was that they didn't do enough to differentiate the Triplecast from the regular NBC coverage. Seems like people didn't buy in because they didn't realize they would be getting something vastly different from NBC. So a lot of folks saw the price tag and balked at it. There's the theory that the American TV audience wasn't ready for it. I'm not so sure about that.. it just wasn't presented in a way that would have encouraged them to consume it. We know now people do in fact want as much of the Olympics as can be offered. And the unfortunate fallout was that it scared NBC off from doing any cable coverage at all from the `96 Olympics on home soil. Which is a shame since a lot of good stuff got missed (such as the debut of softball and women's soccer, both won by the United States.

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I have a lot of Sydney coverage from both NBC and from CBC. Still interesting all these years later to see the contrast between the 2.

Just sent you a pm but your inbox is full. Can you let me know when you have cleared it so I can send you a pm.

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Just sent you a pm but your inbox is full. Can you let me know when you have cleared it so I can send you a pm.

Thanks

Can you post some of the Seven footage?

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Can you post some of the Seven footage?

All the footage I have is in long chunks sorry... 3-4 hours at a time and is on a hard drive and would take quite a bit of time to upload. Will see how I can do it but might take some time.

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Jeez I've still got my double VHS of the opening and it shows the buildup and the aftermath doco of the bloopers in the ceremony including how they sorted out the flame lighting botchup.

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All mine were on VHS, and have long since been consigned to the landfill after various spring cleans. I've got the ceremonies and highlights DVDs, and all the DVD editions of Roy and HG's The Dream through to 2004, though.

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Just sent you a pm but your inbox is full. Can you let me know when you have cleared it so I can send you a pm.

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Cleared. Go for it

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Ahh, the Triplecast. Both the best thing and the worst thing ever to happen to Olympic television. No question it was a good idea, albeit an idea ahead of its time. The problem was that it was marketed and executed as badly as it could have been, so it goes down in history as 1 of the biggest disasters ever in sports television rather than something that was innovative and pioneering like it should have been remembered.

The issues with the Triplecast were two-fold. The big one was that they didn't do enough to differentiate the Triplecast from the regular NBC coverage. Seems like people didn't buy in because they didn't realize they would be getting something vastly different from NBC. So a lot of folks saw the price tag and balked at it. There's the theory that the American TV audience wasn't ready for it. I'm not so sure about that.. it just wasn't presented in a way that would have encouraged them to consume it. We know now people do in fact want as much of the Olympics as can be offered. And the unfortunate fallout was that it scared NBC off from doing any cable coverage at all from the `96 Olympics on home soil. Which is a shame since a lot of good stuff got missed (such as the debut of softball and women's soccer, both won by the United States.

I had a feeling American fans balked over the price range when it came out. Had it was something like $20, people will turn out to pay in droves. I think a press conference addressing those issues like with programming style and pricing would go a long way to soothe any sticker shock. Like proclaiming it'll be more global and commercial-free using the RTO 92 feed. And yes, it was ahead of its time since nowdays we got pay-TV outlets like FOXTEL, SuperSport, SporTV, Canal +, Viasat, DIRECTV, ESPN Brasil, SKY NZ, SKY Italia, Nova Sport, TyC Sports, Dolce Sport, TV+ , Band Sports, Record Sport, Eurosport, Claro Sports, and Stod 2 Sports all having the rights in some time or another in the years since--and even now an Olympic News Channel . The marketing, execution, and I'll personally add the programming (as it wasn't as quite complete as I thought it was going to be when I saw the TV guide) surely weren't presented in ways to entice public consumption. Do fully agree about NBC's unfortunate fallout in not providing more ample coverage of Atlanta 1996 because of being scarred from the experience four years earlier in failing to provide a great showcase of the debuts in softball and women's soccer with all games in their entirties like all the USA ones. In retrospect the Olympic Triplecast was misunderstood and should be seen as innovative and pioneering as you say instead of suffering.

Maybe we can discuss this further with an alternate universe of the Olympic Triplecast Atlanta 1996-style. It would have more channels like all the colors of the Olympic rings instead of Red, White, and Blue. Instead of just 171 hours.

But did you know that TSN in Canada was actually the first cable TV network to broadcast the Olympics when it helped covered Calgary with CTV back in 1988? Those two, now sister channels under the Bell Media family, go way back well before Vancouver 2010! Not sure what it was doing and need to discover what it covered. Like to presume there was plenty of hockey to broadcast since TSN built its name back in 1984 with the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships (and it's still there to this day)

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I had a feeling American fans balked over the price range when it came out. Had it was something like $20, people will turn out to pay in droves. I think a press conference addressing those issues like with programming style and pricing would go a long way to soothe any sticker shock. Like proclaiming it'll be more global and commercial-free using the RTO 92 feed. And yes, it was ahead of its time since nowdays we got pay-TV outlets like FOXTEL, SuperSport, SporTV, Canal +, Viasat, DIRECTV, ESPN Brasil, SKY NZ, SKY Italia, Nova Sport, TyC Sports, Dolce Sport, TV+ , Band Sports, Record Sport, Eurosport, Claro Sports, and Stod 2 Sports all having the rights in some time or another in the years since--and even now an Olympic News Channel . The marketing, execution, and I'll personally add the programming (as it wasn't as quite complete as I thought it was going to be when I saw the TV guide) surely weren't presented in ways to entice public consumption. Do fully agree about NBC's unfortunate fallout in not providing more ample coverage of Atlanta 1996 because of being scarred from the experience four years earlier in failing to provide a great showcase of the debuts in softball and women's soccer with all games in their entirties like all the USA ones. In retrospect the Olympic Triplecast was misunderstood and should be seen as innovative and pioneering as you say instead of suffering.

Maybe we can discuss this further with an alternate universe of the Olympic Triplecast Atlanta 1996-style. It would have more channels like all the colors of the Olympic rings instead of Red, White, and Blue. Instead of just 171 hours.

Lol.. Durban, you're talking about a mass audience of Americans here. Pretty sure holding a press conference (which I'm guessing they did anyway) to remind folks they would be seeing the RTO feed wouldn't have done much.

Again, the product wasn't the issue. It was in the marketing (and yes, the price). The problem was that it wasn't something that could easily be demonstrated before the Olympics. This was the days before NFL Sunday Ticket and out-of-market sports packages. Pay-per-view was largely about one-off events like boxing and wrestling. Never did it cover something as extensive as an Olympics. So I don't think people knew what it was going to be. If they had, they might have been more amenable to it.

And I'm laughing that you thought the Triplecast wasn't complete enough. 20+ years after the fact, it's easy to say that. Did you really think that at the time? When we had never seen any coverage of a Summer Olympics other than what was on a broadcast network, did you honestly look at three 24-hour-a-day channels and say "this isn't complete enough, I don't think people will be into it?" I can tell you I saw the full event schedule in The Sporting News (again, this being pre-Internet days) and tried to come up with a schedule across 5 channels. Would have covered more obscure sports, but I'd like to think 3 channels was complete enough. Think about even with London's coverage how not every sport was covered. So why should it have been 20 years earlier?

1 other thing to note.. NBC's experiment with the Triplecast wasn't born out of trying to offer a new service that they thought the public would be interested in. They were trying to recoup some of the money from the rights fees and they figured this could offset it if it was successful. Obviously that wasn't the case. And I guess NBC thought they could do well enough on their own in 1996 that they went at it alone. And where you're talking about how it would have been nice to have more than 3 channels.. in retrospect, 1 would have been nice. MSNBC launched literally the week of the Opening Ceremony, so who knows if that could have been a vehicle for them. CNBC was fairly well established at that point, although probably wouldn't have been smart to pre-empt daytime programming. Perhaps they could have found something else. But yes, I agree that anything more than 171 hours would have been a welcome addition for Atlanta

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Sure it was funny that I said the Triplecast could use more coverage and a better press conference; looking at it now 20+ years later, better coverage of team handball and field hockey and other obscure Olympics sports where Americans aren't powerhouses in would suffice. Do you have an Olympic Triplecast TV guide because I only saw the USA Today daily guides on their Olympic previews? Since thought that had digital satelitte like Primestar and DIRECTV arrived in time for the Olympics in 1992 and not arrive a few years later, I think the Triplecast would have a better shot with its expansive space (among other things) than cable was capable of and the need for major and appealing content as a very young medium.

And yeah, I was aware of one-offs like boxing, pro wrestling, and some concerts leading the way in PPV back then. But you're right: the Olympics were something else entirely and an extensive sports but unproven outlet in that PPV realm back then lending it to be lacking of easy demonstration and application prior to Barcleona for viewers to get ready. And would give eveidence for major pro leagues like with the NFL's Sunday Ticket and out-of-region sports packages. OK, I'll probrably amend things and say 1 more channel for the Olympics Triplecast had NBC stuck with that in Atlanta to boost the 171-hour coverage would've been nice back then.


Maybe MSNBC would work as a nice outlet to it back then, and NBC would promote the Atlanta Olympic coverage on it in the lead up before eventually going into MSNBC's permanent regular news programming.

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Just now I ran into an interesting curio on Olympic coverage from the early 1990s while going through YouTube and finding some vintage Olympic coverage. People would think that it just the BBC would conduct all the British coverage of the Olympics, right? Well, that isn't entirely true. ITV, like it still does with the World Cup, was a partner in the British Olympic TV coverage with the BBC during 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980, and finally in 1988. The ITV Olympic project stopped following 1988 due to increasing production costs and getting beaten 5-1 in the ratings to the BBC during Seoul, so the ITV head honchos and sports directors decided as a commercial network it be wouldn't worth to continue further in a viable manner. Never mind it was critically acclaimed and well-executed under the late John Bromley from the ITV sports production at . Right now, the Beeb holds the UK rights until Tokyo 2020, but it could go further. Anybody's guess what comes next but it wouldn't be a shock if ITV would like to try the Olympics again. Channel 4 was only involved for Seoul.

However, Olympic TV coverage has changed oh so much since Seoul, something Network Ten found out a little bit when it came back earlier this year in Sochi when it had its previous at exactly that same time (and since lost the Australian rights to the Seven Network also up to 2020). Don't think there's much interest from ITV nowdays--and the BBC's Olympic coverage is of high quality since, even venturing into satellite and 3D with help from SKY and creating (like Channel 4 and ITV also have done) multiple channels. Sharing the British Olympic TV and other media coverage with the BBC like in Canada and Japan would indeed shoulder the burden in costs. If ITV got the Olympics, I hope it will take notes on the examples TV2 Norge and the MTG channels did when it comes to when and where it would place commercials during the coverage not ruining it and maintain a high level of quality so as to make it seamless as possible from the BBC, so as British viewers won't inevitably moan.

Likely due to very strong competition from the BBC, ITV backed out during the 1990s. Very likely the BBC actually invited ITV to take part again for 1992, 1994, and 1996. But ITV made it clear it wasn't interested anymore. Didn't think Channel 4 would like to take part following, I heard, a disastrous coverage of the IAAF World Track and Field Championship. Though its coverage was shorter than BBC's, the ITV end of the Olympics was on ITV2 and some out to Channel 4, all produced out at the Thames Television Studios Complex at Euston, London for it was costly to cover it out in Seoul even with ITV Sport's massive presence there. ITV Sport's coverage was, if I'm right, 15 hours of coverage daily. Main highlights on ITV was on 5:15pm London time while the BBC's was on 7pm Only this time its coverage was on par was in Moscow 1980 in a consequence of the boycott threat with the BBC massively scaling down its production army with both doing only three hours daily. ITV planned to help cover Los Angeles but pulled out at the last minute because TVam couldn't come to an agreement with its labor union in sacrificing two weeks for it and could not do it. Would be unviable without the labor union's support back then.

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I will return to the British Seoul 1988 TV coverage with the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4 later. But to keep things going for that is concerned, here's a Guardian article that gets some reflective insights (mistakes really) as to why ITV ended its Olympic partnership with Seoul back in 1988 and never came back to it since:

http://www.theguardian.com/media/2012/aug/09/olympics-2012-tv-coverage

RAI's intro to its Atlanta 1996 Olympic broadcast, starting with the Opening Ceremony. In this case, RAI Due.

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