NBC Chafes Under Olympic Restrictions

Chinese government clamping down on media access ahead of games
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 21, 2008 3:07 AM CDT
Chinese police officers practice arresting a mock protester during a drill in front of the Olympic Games Village People's Local Court in Beijing, China, Thursday, July 17, 2008.    (AP Photo/Color China Photo)
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(Newser) – NBC paid a record $900 million to cover the Beijing Olympics, but it and other networks are already nervous about how much Chinese officials will actually allow them to cover, reports the New York Times. If political protests erupt, networks will also face the dilemma of covering them and angering the Chinese—or ignoring them and facing charges of censorship from the West. Reporters are already facing intimidation and harassment.

The Chinese government has contradicted earlier promises to allow free access to broadcasters by enforcing strict visa requirements and a lengthly application process. With the 2008 Olympics expected to be both the most newsworthy—and the most restricted—in decades, news organizations may be torn between covering news and access to the games. But the head of NBC's news division has vowed: "If there's news, we're going to cover it."