NBC and its two cable stations, MSNBC and CNBC, will televise more than 330 hours -- most of it taped -- of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol said yesterday.
"This is an Olympics on the other side of the world, where virtually every minute of our coverage will be anywhere from 12 to 14 hours delayed, so that it can be seen by the optimal number of people in this country who are awake as opposed to in the middle of the night," Ebersol told the executive committee of the U.S. Olympic Committee at a meeting yesterday at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel.
The coverage is twice the number of hours that the network broadcast from Atlanta in 1996 and will include some sports, such as boxing, which have received little television exposure during recent Olympics, Ebersol said.
He said NBC's 160 hours of broadcasts will feature most of the major Olympic sports, including track and field, gymnastics, swimming and diving, volleyball and basketball. MSNBC and CNBC will air more than 170 hours of coverage. The Games run from Sept. 15 to Oct. 1, 2000.
"The coverage on the cable channels . . . is what opens up so much more of the other Olympic sports which have not gotten coverage," Ebersol said.
For example, he said, "Boxing will make a return. Boxing had become very, very difficult for us to put on" because when it was aired at the 1988 Seoul Games it "basically drove from about a quarter to a third of the audience away." But, because of the increased hours on cable, Ebersol said boxing will be televised just about every day for several hours on CNBC.
NBC has paid $3.6 billion for exclusive U.S. TV rights to broadcast the Games through 2008.
Also at yesterday's meeting, Anita DeFrantz, an International Olympic Committee vice president and one of two U.S. members of the IOC, gave a report from last week's IOC general session in Seoul. The IOC is moving forward to bring about reforms in the wake of the Salt Lake bribery scandal, DeFrantz said.
DeFrantz also told the committee that the IOC had placed a three-year limit on reviewing results from Games that might have been tainted by drug use.
But USOC President Bill Hybl told DeFrantz that he wanted to pursue demands that the 1976 U.S. women's 400-meter medley relay team be awarded duplicate gold medals after finishing second to an East German squad that was found to have used illegal drugs.
Some USOC members were puzzled that the IOC would place limits on retroactive drug sanctions.
"I think the biggest deterrent to an athlete using drugs is the fear of reprisal 10, 12, 15 years down the road," said Bill Stapleton, the head of the USOC's athletes advisory council. "What is the IOC's rationale?"