SEARCH 2000 Games

Tuesday, April 18, 2000
IOC eases ban on non-rights broadcasters

 LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) -- Olympic organizers eased restrictions Tuesday on television access at the Sydney Games, allowing a limited number of international broadcasters to film within the main Homebush site.
 Sydney organizing chief Michael Knight announced a compromise plan -- approved by the International Olympic Committee -- to allay the concerns of non-rights-holding entities including CNN, ESPN, Fox, Associated Press Television News and Reuters Television.
 Under previously announced guidelines, all non-rights-holders would have been banned from the entire Sydney Olympic Park area at Homebush, a public area that is the site for most of the marquee sports, including track and field, swimming, basketball and gymnastics.
 The rule would have restricted access to local Australian rights-holders and NBC, which paid $705 million for exclusive U.S. rights to the Sept. 15-Oct. 1 games.
 The ban led to official protests by TV companies and the threat of possible legal action against Sydney Olympic officials.
 Under the new rules, Olympic officials will issue eight permits per day to international non-rights-holders and eight to Australian non-rights-holders.
 The permits will be issued on a rotating basis by the Olympic Coordination Authority, a body of the New South Wales government that controls the Homebush site.
 "This is a victory for common sense and enables the international news organizations to report the news events that surround every Olympic Games in a proper manor. It the Olympic ideal that there should be access for all," APTN managing editor Sandy MacIntyre said.
 The IOC has accredited 140 non-right-holders for Sydney, suggesting the competition will be fierce for the daily permits.
 "We are trying to balance crowd management and the legitimate interests of news media, while protecting our rights holders," Knight said. "They have paid a lot of money for the rights and don't deserve to be ambushed."
 Sydney officials have cited crowd control as a main reason for their decision to restrict TV access to the area.
 As in previous games, all non-Olympic broadcasters are prohibited from filming inside the stadiums and arenas. But in the past, non-rights-holders have not been banned from filming outside the venues.
 Those non-rights-holders allowed access to Homebush will be subjected to several conditions. They will be prohibited from doing live broadcasts or conducting interviews with athletes outside the venues.
 All non-rights-holders -- including those without the daily permits -- will have access to the main press center, which is located in the Homebush area. Athletes will be encouraged to go to the press center for interviews, Knight said.
 Knight acknowledged the plan won't satisfy everybody.
 "We think it's a fair compromise," he said. "It's always a balancing act. When you reach a compromise, you usually don't make everybody happy. But it's almost always the best result."
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