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NBC wins the Beijing swimming finals

The IOC last week decided to hold the swimming finals and much of the gymnastics at the Beijing Games in the morning, to the delight of American broadcasters. "The decision on the competition schedule for 2008 was taken by the IOC's executive Board after a thorough consultation process with all stakeholders -- broadcasters, athletes, international federations -- and is final," IOC Director of Communications Giselle Davies said.

The EBU, which represents public service broadcasters in Europe and neighbouring regions said on Tuesday the IOC's decision ended a tradition of staging finals in the host country's evening. "Viewers in Europe as well as the vast majority of the global TV audience will be disadvantaged," it said in a statement. Due to the time difference between Europe and China, the change means that Europeans will need to stay up very late to watch the popular swimming finals.

The proposed morning shift for the swimming finals had caused uproar when the news was leaked earlier this year, with some swimmers accusing the IOC of putting the interests of U.S. broadcaster NBC before the needs of the athletes

. Morning finals in Beijing mean prime-time audiences in the U.S. for NBC, which paid $3.55 billion for the exclusive North American media rights to the 2000 to 2008 Games. Swimming is a big draw for American audiences and the U.S. team led by Michael Phelps, who won six gold medals in Athens in 2004, enjoy a great rivalry with the Australian team. The Australians had also opposed the change.

From: IOC shrugs off EBU protest over 2008 swimming finals, Karolos Grohmann, 1 11 06,(Reuters)

More at: NBC scoops the pool

See also: Peoples Daily