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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS

Viewer's Guide

August 04, 1996|LARRY STEWART

NBC says the ratings prove it has done what it set out to do.

"Our job was to show the Olympics with truth, beauty and goodness, and to serve the American public, and the ratings show we've done that," said a network spokesman.

But the ratings aren't really as impressive as NBC would have us believe. What the network does is put a little public-relations spin on them. For instance, every day it puts out a press release about the percentage of increase over the ratings from Barcelona in 1992, which is fine.

But what NBC doesn't say is that it is trailing the last Olympics, the Winter Games at Lillehammer, Norway, by a considerable margin. CBS finished with an average prime-time rating of 27.8 for Lillehammer. NBC, through 14 nights of Atlanta, has averaged a 22.4.

Something else NBC doesn't say is that ABC, after 14 nights of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, was averaging a 22.8, despite the boycott by the Soviet bloc.

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