Time waiits for no one, it is often said, but perhaps time never had gotten an offer it couldn't refuse.

When NBC Sports televises the 1988 Summer Olympics from Seoul next September, South Korea's clocks will wait for U.S. dollars. To accommodate the prime-time needs of American viewers, the South Koreans will go to daylight savings time next year, creating a 14-hour time difference between Seoul and New York instead of a 13-hour difference.

The idea to make time stand still -- at least for one hour -- belongs to Barry Frank, the Trans World International executive who was hired as a consultant to the Seoul Olympic Organizing Committee (SLOOC) and helped it negotiate U.S. television rights with the networks in fall 1985.

Frank seemingly had an insoluble problem -- an Olympics half a world away, with individual athletic federations balking at changing their starting times and U.S. television balking at paying hefty rights for delayed telecasts. Any hour he could find to add to our prime-time schedule was crucial.

"I asked the South Koreans, 'Have you ever had daylight savings before?' 'Yes,' they said."

" 'What would it take to get it back?'

" 'An act of Congress.'

" 'Is that impossible?'

" 'No.'

"So they went to the president and it was agreed upon. It's a lot easier than doing things here," Frank said. "There are certain advantages to having a benevolent dictatorship."

NBC is paying a base of $300 million for U.S. television rights, with a risk-sharing formula tied to advertising sales that could boost the fee to $500 million. "This might have been worth $25 million in the overall scheme of things," Frank said of the daylight savings ploy.

NBC will telecast 179 1/2 hours of coverage, 80 percent of it live. The most important element is live prime-time coverage. Because of the South Koreans' time switch, when it's prime time on the East Coast here (8-11 p.m.), it will be between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. the next day in Seoul, which is when many Olympic medals will be decided.

As long as the South Koreans are getting their money and we're getting a prime-time Olympics in living color, does anybody really care what time it is?

"You have to be live," said Frank, 53, who also helped negotiate the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics deal with ABC. "Sarajevo {the 1980 Winter Olympics} proved that the Games don't do nearly as well on delay."

"It was a rather ingenious idea by Barry," said TWI's Jim Bukata. "Remember, the revenue is so important to the South Koreans, so they thought it was a terrific idea. My guess is if the people like it {daylight savings}, they might leave it like that."

South Korea last had daylight savings in the late 1960s, according to a spokesman at the South Korean embassy here. Once Frank got SLOOC's approval, daylight savings became almost a certainty because SLOOC is an arm of the government. The proposal still needs passage in the nation's general assembly, but that is considered a formality.

"We'd have a serious problem {if it didn't pass}." said Mike Eskridge, NBC Sports' executive vice president for the Olympics. "I don't know specifically what we'd do, but it would have quite a financial impact."

"NBC would have the right to renegotiate the contract if it didn't pass," Frank said.

In almost spectacular fashion, Frank virtually has widened the boundaries of future television/sports alliances. Often, to accommodate television and TV dollars, sporting events have switched starting times. In this case, an entire nation switched time.

"What you do is cast your mind for any possibility that would help no matter how far out it seems," Frank said. "That was one of 20 ideas I threw out at the time to solve the problem of being 8,000 miles and 13 hours away for American television. If they hadn't made any adjustments to their scheduling of events or to the {consideration of daylight savings}, it would be 4 o'clock in the morning here when they'd be running finals."

So, 43 million South Koreans will push back their clocks one hour next year so that 241 million Americans can watch the Seoul Olympics in the convenience of prime time.

Frank was asked if he considered the possibility of having the United States make the one-hour adjustment -- especially in light of how lengthy Congress debated last year on a bill to start daylight savings three weeks earlier in the spring.

"That thought never crossed my mind," he said, laughing. "I've had enough experience with Washington to know that that would never happen."