Now NBC, which has U.S. rights to the Olympics for the next thousand years or so, has told us that the Winter Games from Salt Lake City next February will be shown live in the Eastern, Central and Mountain time zones. This is an improvement over coverage of the Sydney Olympics last year, which were delayed as much as twenty-four hours. Great hue and cry went up over that poor judgment by NBC.
Somehow the network geniuses have determined that the west coast doesn't deserve to watch the Salt Lake City games live. They plan to delay the telecast by two and a half hours. We'll have the privilege of watching events that the rest of the country has seen live on tape delay, at 7:30 instead of 5:00. In other words, long after scores and results have been downloaded into our computers by CNN and Yahoo, we'll be able to catch up with what's been happening just over the Utah state line.
In the Bay Area, there's a further complication. KRON-TV, channel 4, which has been an NBC affiliate for fifty years, is being replaced by a station in San Jose that is paying the network a huge sum for the right to broadcast its programming. The owners of KNTV, channel 11, are in no position to challenge the high-handed tactics of the decision makers in New York, who have apparently decided that the west coast doesn't matter, as long as it can charge prime time ad rates for its Olympic commercials.
Here in the North Bay, we don't even get channel 11. I don't know if we'll be seeing such fine NBC programs as Fear Factor (or The Weakest Link, or Cursed — do these people know how to label their own dreck, or what?) after January 1, 2002, anyway, although I suspect that the cable and satellite systems will find a way to bring in the distant signal.