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October 01, 1988

Yes, the Olympics Games coverage on TV is lousy.

The reason NBC has done so poorly is twofold: Some NBC hotshots in their infinite wisdom decided the Olympics was not really a sport, it was news . That's why there has been so little actual sports coverage and so much time spent looking for, making or rehashing controversies. And if all else fails, interview other newscasters.

Different NBC executives decided the Olympics was entertainment and have pushed what I call the "Pierre Salinger Syndrome."

Back some years ago, when ABC Sports began losing control of its own Olympics coverage, the network spent hours following Salinger around the restaurants and bars of some European town, instead of concentrating on the sports events that 99% of its viewers had tuned in to see. This, I guess, was so as not to lose the grandmotherly viewer in Oshkosh who didn't like sports.

NBC probably has no idea why its viewers are angered. After all, it has only continued the type of coverage ABC had pushed to a new high (or low) in the last Winter Olympics: covering a few select, mostly American, athletes in only a few events, and filling the remaining air time interviewing shopkeepers, athletes, or each other between all the commercials.

If HBO would promise to provide uninterrupted sports coverage at the next Olympics, I would gladly pay $100 (maybe more) to be a viewer. And to give the best coverage of the Games, I suggest: Send only one sportscaster to each event and have only one person in the control room. And remember, Jim McKay did OK with sports and news.

JOHN ORSBUN

Garden Grove

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