TV executives worried about Olympic media rules

Some television executives say security regulations may restrict their coverage of the Olympic Games that open Aug. 8 in Beijing.

Some television executives preparing for the Olympics in Beijing have expressed concern they won't be able to deliver the kind of coverage they have in the past because of security regulations.

In a meeting with Chinese officials held in Beijing on May 29, nine media organizations that have paid for the rights to broadcast the Olympics were told there's unlikely to be live coverage from Tiananmen Square or the Forbidden City.

This is a change from two months ago when International Olympic Committee officials in Beijing said China had agreed to allow live coverage.

Broadcasters have been denied permits to record aerial views of the two sites for media coverage of the Games, which begin Aug. 8.

"For us to potentially not be able to do live reports from Tiananmen — the most iconic place in China — is a disgrace," said Scott Moore, executive director of Canada's CBC Sports. "I've been told that to do business in China, you have to have patience. We don't have time to have patience. The Games have begun for us already."

Chinese police fear both areas might be venues for protests, which would be a public relations disaster if demonstrations — and possibly police crackdowns — are beamed around the world.

Gary Zenkel, the president of NBC Olympics, told the meeting the issues "can be solved" ahead of what has the potential to be "the world's greatest Olympics," but he also said certain "obstacles" are hindering the organizers.

"I don't know who they are or how to get to them collectively, but we must get to them," Zenkel added. "Because these Games will suffer and these problems will be presented to the world and they don't do justice to these Olympics.

"This is a big day for China and the Olympics and it may be lost if there isn't any immediate change or movement made by the government, or whoever. It has to happen. We hope the wakeup call is heard."

Some TV executives say Chinese officials are requiring that forms be filled out specifying where broadcast satellite trucks will be each day of the Games, raising concerns that TV crews won't be able to cover breaking news in a timely fashion.

The IOC says about 2,000 TV trucks usually go in and out of Olympic venues every day during the Games.

In response to the complaints from broadcasters, Sun Weijia, head of media operations for the Beijing organizers, asked them to put it in writing, only to draw protests about mounting paperwork.

"I think what I have heard here are just a number of conditions or requirements that are just not workable," said IOC official Gilbert Felli, according to minutes of the meeting obtained by the Associated Press. "There are a number of things that are just not feasible."

With files from the Associated Press