Rogge expects China to resolve TV dispute

/ Source: The Associated Press

IOC president Jacques Rogge is confident concerns over television coverage restrictions at the Beijing Olympics will be resolved within days.

With 7 1/2 weeks to go before the Aug. 8 opening of the games, TV broadcasters are battling Chinese organizers for permission to move reporters, equipment and satellite trucks freely around the sprawling capital city.

Rogge said Thursday the International Olympic Committee received a report from Beijing organizers addressing the concerns.

"I must say we are well advanced in resolving the issues," he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "It will take a couple of days to finalize everything. Things are moving extremely well to resolve these issues."

"Most of the issues have been solved," he added. "There are still a couple of minor pending issues that will be solved in coming days. I'm very optimistic this problem will be alleviated and solved in a short time."

Disputes surfaced at a stormy meeting on May 29 in Beijing with IOC officials, top Chinese leadership and TV executives, including U.S. rights holder NBC. At that time broadcasters were told it was unlikely they would be allowed to transmit live from venues such as Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.

Right holders such as NBC — which pay for the rights to broadcast — and non-rights-holders are facing restrictions over where they'll be allowed to set up satellite trucks and high-tech equipment. Chinese officials want the coverage limited to the sports venues. They fear losing control and dread the prospect of protests by pro-Tibet activists or the spiritual sect Falun Gong being caught on camera.

IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said Thursday the IOC had received assurances from BOCOG, the Beijing organizing committee, that broadcasters would be free to film and uplink their footage from non-Olympic venues.

"We're moving forward," she said. "The bottom line is there has been a series of issues. Some of them have been solved. Some are in the process of being solved and should be any time now."

Moreau said broadcasting from Tianamen Square would require special authorization because the area has been designated a special cultural and historical location.

"Broadcasters will be able to do their job from Tianamen as long as they have the relevant authorization," she said. "As in any country in the world, if you want to film from a historical location, you need to ask for certain authorization. We had assurances these authorizations will be given, but the request has to be put forward."