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OLYMPICS LETTERS : Paying the Tab for NBC's 'Free' Coverage

August 08, 1992

Like most Americans, I laughed along with the late-night comics at the folly of NBC's Olympic TripleCast. "Why pay $125 for Olympic coverage when I can get all I need for free?" I chortled. Then I began to watch NBC's network coverage and realized that I would pay, all right, in subtler ways.

Interminable profiles, features and music videos steal precious time from the reporting of actual competition. Coverage of a single event is spread out over an entire evening to string the viewer along and keep him watching the endless advertisements.

Some of my conspiracy-theorist friends suspect NBC's network coverage is merely a ruse to frustrate viewers into buying the TripleCast. In my case, it worked. I called my cable company this morning to place my order. In a bitter ironic twist worthy of one of Dick Enberg's "Moments," they informed me that I would be unable to order the TripleCast. They were completely sold out of decoder boxes and expected no new ones.

Coincidence? I think not.

JESS BORGESON

Hollywood

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