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Big Brother Comes to The Olympics, or “How NBC and The IOC Are In League To Deny You Live Coverage” February 23, 2010

Posted by Lynn Christiansen Esquer in Broadcast/Internet.
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UPDATE: See my thoughts about the London Games here.

And you thought the Cold War Olympics were over?

I wrote a few days ago about how NBC has ruined the Olympics for me. A few thousand page views and dozens of comments later, I’m seeing a larger picture.

And boy, is it disturbing.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) counts on American broadcast rights to help finance the games. NBC and its parent company, GE, paid the IOC a record $2.2 billion for exclusive rights for the 2010 Vancouver and 2012 London Games.

An integral part of the agreement: All International Olympic Internet feeds are blocked to those residing in the U.S.; and for those who don’t subscribe to cable or satellite television, even NBC’s Internet feeds are unavailable.

Which means, if you live in the U.S., you do not have legal access to free or live Olympic coverage from any source.In today’s technological age, this is an outrage.

Are you getting this? Does it sound a little like living in Iran or China? But instead of government censorship, it’s corporate for-profit totalitarianism. Think of the larger implications of this statement. Americans are being force fed news of this event from the perspective of one single news source, with no timely alternatives. Are you angry yet?

I understand the mutually beneficial relationship between NBC (advertising revenues resulting from exclusive broadcast rights) and the IOC, and can only hope that NBC will lose its broadcast rights by the time 2014 rolls around for its poor coverage. But that’s just wishful thinking — there’s no evidence to suggest that anything other than money talks to the IOC; and NBC has already expressed its intention to bid for the 2014 and 2016 Games.

The wall won’t fall on its own because, despite the almost universal disparagement of NBC’s coverage, the network has inexplicably logged the largest ratings of any Winter Games since 1994. But as mobile and wireless evolve quickly, there will be more and more fires for the IOC and NBC to put out to prevent us from finding ways to watch. At some point, those little fires will become a wildfire of public control that the IOC will be unable to extinguish.

Let’s hope it happens soon.

Feel free to contact the FCC: http://www.fcc.gov/contacts.html

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