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Olympic Coverage Lagging in the West

February 13, 1998|LARRY STEWART

Weather delays, tape delays and nightmares.

That has been the story of the Nagano Winter Games for CBS.

There's nothing more stale than day-old news, but that, in some cases, is what CBS has been giving viewers.

Picabo Street's gold medal in the women's super-giant slalom was a high point, but by the time CBS got around to showing it to viewers in the Western part of the United States, 26 hours had elapsed.

Street, second down the hill, made her run while CBS was still on the air with its prime-time show, but the event was not concluded until after CBS went off the air. It was a little past 11 p.m. in the East but only a little past 8 p.m. in the West.

However, since CBS has designed everything for the Eastern and Central time zones, the decision was made to hold showing the event one full day--23 hours in the East, 26 hours here.

One might wonder why CBS couldn't break in and at least show it live in the Pacific and Mountain time zones.

CBS spokesman Dana McClintock, from Nagano, said it is unfortunate but "it is physically impossible" to do a special edition for the West.

OK, but then why have Al Trautwig announce the results of the super-G on the late-night show without showing any footage?

McClintock said if CBS did that, then the footage would be fair game for all news outlets to pick up.

"It would have been all over television all day before we could have shown it again on our prime-time show," McClintock said.

McClintock said that also would be a problem if the footage had been shown just in the West.

"When you think about it, there was no other way to do it than the way we did it," he said.

That's little consolation.

When it comes to covering the Olympics, television--be it CBS, NBC or ABC--just can't seem to get it right, and the complaints pour in from viewers.

"I empathize with the viewers, particularly those in the West," prime-time host Jim Nantz said from Nagano about an hour before Thursday's prime-time show. "This has been an arduous task. Because of the weather and the time zone we're coming from, there has never been a more difficult Olympics to cover.

"But I'm having a lot of fun and, technically, as a network, I think we're doing a good job."


When the U.S. and Canada meet in hockey Monday afternoon in Nagano, it will be 8:45 p.m. Sunday here. But that's 11:45 p.m. in the East, so that's when CBS will show it here--11:45, the usual delay of three hours.

But thanks to the Kings, Southland hockey fans can see the game live. The game will be shown at the Forum on Sunday night via a Canadian television feed.

Admission is $6 and parking is free. There also will be a one-hour celebrity/alumni game at 7:30 involving celebrities and former Kings and Vancouver Canucks.


Some people at all-sports radio AM 1150 need to learn about credibility. If you're the Dodger flagship station, it's a requirement.

But that didn't keep the guys at night, Dave Smith and Ben Waller, from making up a story about Joe McDonnell and Jim Rome, who aren't exactly the best of friends, getting into a fight at the promotional function at the House of Blues in Hollywood last week.

"Yeah, I heard about it," McDonnell said. "If it really happened, Rome would be in the hospital and I'd be in jail."

McDonnell had Tom Lasorda live in studio on his show Thursday, and that's the kind of radio AM 1150 should be doing, not childish, unprofessional and bogus stunts.

But AM 1150 is facing bigger problems than just a lack of credibility and professionalism. Station management has union problems too.

An arbitrator on Feb. 2 ruled in favor of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) that the station has been underpaying its on-air talent, in some cases less than half the AFTRA scale of $64,272, and that back pay is owed.

"The arbitrator gave them a little of what they sought and a little of what we sought," Roy Laughlin, the general manager of AM 1150 and sister station KIIS-FM, said.

"That's . . . , we won everything we asked for," David Besbris, AFTRA staff counsel, said.

Laughlin said he would meet with the AFTRA representatives Monday to work out a settlement. But Besbris said Laughlin has agreed to talk only by phone.

"The problem is, AFTRA thinks we should be paying our people on the AM side what we pay our people on the FM side," Laughlin said. "The FM station brought in $34 million worth of advertising last year, while AM 1150, when it started in March, was bringing in zero."


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