SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- A U.S. Olympic Committee official said Wednesday that a disagreement between American broadcasters and the Olympic Co-ordination Authority could be a public relations nightmare for the Sydney Games unless it is resolved.
Under existing arrangements, international agencies other than NBC, which paid $705 million for the international broadcasting rights, must take part in a daily lottery for one of eight permits to film in the public domain at the Olympic site at Homebush.
"This idea of eight passes to be divided among all the non-rights holding organizations outside of Australia can lead to an ugly mess," USOC spokesman Mike Moran told Channel Nine television. "If you want bad publicity and bad public relations for the Olympics, go to a lottery like this."
He has already warned that non-rights holders, such as CNN, ESPN and Fox Sports, might not broadcast from Sydney unless OCA changes its rules.
OCA has said the lottery was necessary to ensure public safety.
"I don't know what the possible safety issue could be here," Moran said.
He said local officials had no right to interfere in media rights issues and could damage the Olympics in the key North American market.
Letting other U.S. networks showcase Sydney would be a bonus for Australia, he said.
"If these rules don't change and we're forced to stand in line, all these major networks, with all the others, for these eight passes, or go through some sort of lottery, you're going to have a very ugly public relations issue that never needed to happen," he said.
Moran said he did not believe the move was aimed at protecting NBC.
"I trust NBC, they did not have anything to do with this embargo. I can't say the same for the rights holder in Australia -- I don't know that," he said.