NBC Sports in New York and its affiliate WRC in Washington received scores of calls from baseball fans yesterday when the network broke away from its weekly national baseball telecasts late in both games.
At 5 p.m. (EDT), NBC switched from the Atlanta-Cincinnati and Chicago-New York games to the National Sports Festival in Colorado Springs.
"The Sports Festival is the first major U.S. Olympic Committee athletic effort prior to the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. We felt we owed a service to the people in the United States and to the U.S. Olympic Committee to honor our commitment," said the president of NBC Sports, Arthur Watson, in a prepared statement from Colorado Springs.
"The primary game between Atlanta and Cincinnati ran unusually long and we felt we could accommodate everyone's interest by starting our coverage of Sports Festival and then going back to pick up critical moments of each game - which we did. We hope this situation did not inconvenience our viewers."
NBC will televise the 1980 Olympic Games from Moscow.
An NBC spokesman admitted the network had adopted a strict policy in 1968 of not breaking away from major sporting events while in progress after irate football fans complained about missing two touchdowns in a close and crucial game between the Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets when NBC opted to show "Heidi."
The Reds were leading the Braves, 8-6, in the eighth inning and the Mets were ahead of the Cubs, 6-4, when NBC interrupted the contests. Those were the final scores.