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Viewers Line Up to Be Critics of NBC Television Coverage

August 04, 1996

I've become used to reading inane columns by Larry Stewart, but today's [July 29] must be labeled for him a personal best. Not only is it filled with inaccuracies, but his analysis so confounds logic as to be laughable. He starts out by describing NBC's coverage as "watered down with chatter, interviews, promos, reviews of things we've already seen, and, of course, commercials." Anyone with even a basic understanding of sports television recognizes that the coverage of this year's Games is by far the best in television history.

NBC's coverage this year as reflected by record viewership is a combination of terrific storytelling, compelling pictures, and the emotional involvement of the audience that can be gained only by taking the time to set events in perspective and to educate the viewers about sports they may have little knowledge of.

The Olympics are about excellence, performance and dreams, and Dick Ebersol and his troops have captured all of these aspects. So far, more than 193 million Americans have viewed some part of the Olympics on NBC. That's the feedback that Dick Ebersol is responding to, not Larry Stewart's "straw poll."


President, NBC West Coast


With the permission of the honorable mayor of Atlanta, every NBC executive ought to be taken out and shot! Or at least hung from the high bar and forced to listen to John Tesh drone on in his overly melodramatic, unapologetically obsequious, Muzak-playing, ET-gushing way. If I hear about Vitaly Scherbo's wife's near-fatal accident one more time, I'm gonna go out and run her over myself. If gymnastics is really what the poor writer of "Amazing Grace" had in mind, then I'm giving up my Christian faith to join some pagan tribe in New Guinea.

Let's see: I've seen gymnastics, a President Clinton interview, gymnastics, a Billy Payne interview, gymnastics, Gala of Champions (not to be confused with gymnastics), gymnastics and Carl Lewis' record-tying ninth gold medal long jump. Of course, I'm exaggerating--I didn't really see Carl Lewis, I saw an edited tape of Lewis' competitors taking their last shots at beating Lewis.

I will, however, give NBC credit. They play the American national anthem so often that I get tears in my eyes. Never mind that those tears turn into outright bawling when NBC goes back to gymnastics.




Dick Ebersol, in trying to defend the deplorable job NBC has been doing in covering the Olympics, has stated, "My job is to get eyeballs to the television, and that's exactly what we're doing."

I wish I could say something adverse about NBC that would upset Mr. Ebersol, but I realize that he doesn't care what a viewer thinks of NBC.

Instead, I'll say something that will absolutely devastate Dick Ebersol. Curse Coca-Cola.




Thank you, Larry Stewart, but I don't think you perceive what Dick Ebersol has saved us from. We've been brainwashed to prefer stupid stuff like boxing, baseball and soccer. And to prefer action over endless talk and human-interest fluff. And thank God NBC's exclusive rights took away our ability to switch the channel to another Olympic event while those personable announcers yak away.


Marina del Rey


A gold medal should be awarded to every executive at NBC and all the corporate sponsors for their coverage of the Centennial Olympics in Atlanta. We have proved to the world once again that Americans are still comfortably in first place for being the most ethnocentric, narcissistic and self-approving people in the world. Everyone knows, especially at NBC, that the Olympics is about showing the rest of the world that Americans can crush anyone in any sport. Well, that's what we think and that's really all that matters.


Newport Beach


NBC has turned the Games into a celebration of the lowest common denominator in American demographics. The high, or low, point (depending on your point of view) was the final "Ice Capades" night of gymnastics, with the U.S. women's team effortlessly segueing from "The Best of John Tesh" through The Village People's "YMCA," finally ending with the propaganda-like "Proud to be an American." I'm sure the international athletes appreciated the tribute. Bravo.

P.S. Can I be the first to say "Las Vegas, 2004"?




Bravo, Dick, you got your ratings because the viewers will watch in spite of your approach, not because of it, for a glimpse of the spectrum of competition.


Playa del Rey


All those hours of pubescent bouncing dolls and mermaids. Tales of tragedy and woe. Band-Aids on little toes. Repeated close-ups of a teddy bear.

These girls are great, but their gymnastics events aren't the be-all and end-all of the Olympics. Out of 82 world-class scheduled events, too many suffer neglect because they just don't fit in with NBC's soap-opera approach.


Culver City


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