The decision by West Germany television directors to cut the planned eight hours of Olympic coverage to two nightly feeds of 15 minutes has played into the hands of the neighboring communist government in East Germany.
For East Germany's 17 million inhabitants, Olympic results have proved that they are second only to the Soviet Union -- with 265 million inhabitants. State television hammered home that fact up to 14 hours a day, waking citizens with an 8 a.m. resume of the previous day's action and keeping them up as late as midnight with live coverage and replays.
The blanket coverage has turned viewing habits topsy-turvy on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
Most evenings, East German viewers who can do so turn into West German television if they live close enough to the border to get it. Since the Olympics began, however, it has been West Germans who have flocked to border regions to catch East Germany's broadcasts, or rushed to stores to buy special antennas to improve reception that reaches as far as Hamburg.
The rush has not been lost on East German reporters, who interviewed West Germans across the border, noted their craving for sport, and concluded, "The citizens of West Germany do not have free access to information."
One group of five officials from West Germany's Federal Committee for Competitive Sport has even taken up residence in a hotel in the town of Rhoen, six miles from the East German border. Hunched around two television sets and six videotape recorders, they painfully noted every detail of the Games their athletes have missed.
The five experts' recordings and analysis will be a part of assessment the committee plans to make on how West German athletes would have done had they competed in Moscow. Those who in the panel's judgment would have won medals had they participated would receive 10,000 West German marks (about $5,600) rewards each.
West Germany's largest newspaper, the conservative mass daily "Bild Zeitung," also has awarded a gold medal worth $275 to each athlete who has ever performed better than the actual winner in Moscow.
Cartoons have ridiculed the Games as a farce, while sports and news pages give good play to reports of Soviet censorship or allegations of cheating by Soviet judges.