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Stations go camera-to-camera in local Olympics coverage

February 12, 1988

By Tom Sowa
The Spokesman-Review
and Spokane Chronicle

Two Spokane TV stations will go head-to-head, camera-to-camera, trying to add a local touch to televised coverage of the Winter Olympics at Calgary.

Each of the stations, KREM-TV (Channel 2) and KXLY-TV (Channel 4), will have a small crew of reporters and cameramen at the games, which open officially Saturday and continue through February 28.

They’ll complete with more than 300 other news-gathering contingents from the United States and Canada covering the Olympics.

KHQ-TV (Channel 6) is the major Spokane station that won’t send staff to the games. KHQ News Director Dean Mell said station management decided in November that sending a crew to Calgary would be unproductive.

“It’s not worth the candle,” says Mell, suggesting most viewers will watch ABC as the primary source of Olympic coverage.

ABC has exclusive American rights for televised coverage of the games. But all three networks will end up providing stations around the country, including KHQ, with taped highlights during the competition.

“What any station like us can do is very restricted by ABC,” Mell said. “Then there’s the logistics of getting a feed back here on a satellite.

“Anything worth getting we’ll get anyway, namely the highlights and results.”

In exchange for the hefty price ABC paid for TV rights, it’s been able to impose regulations and guidelines that restrict which events can be filmed and when local stations can broadcast taped highlights.

For example, ABC won’t allow taped highlights of certain Olympic events to be shown on a newscast until after the network has carried it. It also gives a station just 48 hours after an event ends to broadcast authorized taped highlights.

ABC plans to carry more than 90 hours of coverage, mostly live reports.

Despite the red tape, KXLY and KREM have announced daily reports from Calgary, at least for the first week of the games.

“The reason we’re here is that Calgary is in our viewing area,” says KXLY sports director Bud Nameck.

KXLY’s approach, he says, will be to “avoid the coverage viewers will see on our network.”

KREM and KXLY will focus on the four Northwest athletes competing in Calgary – three from Idaho and one from Seattle.

KXLY also plans a feature on hockey referee Dennis LaRew, a Spokane resident and the only American hockey referee in the games.

Satellite uplink will allow Nameck and sports announcer Rick Lukens to file live daily reports directly to KXLY. The station’s reports started Thursday and continue through Monday.

KREM will carry taped reports from sports director Eric Johnson today through Sunday. He’ll file live reports starting Monday and continuing until February 19.

Both stations will plan their heaviest coverage during the 5 to 6 p.m. newscasts. Late-night news coverage will emphasize highlights from network footage.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for people in our area,” says KREM news director Phil Wenstrand. “It’s very expensive to do this, but if you want to provide the coverage people need to have, you’ll have to spend that money.”

The Spokesman-Review and Spokane Chronicle will carry expanded Olympic coverage.

Sports writer John Blanchette will wright a daily column from Calgary until the games end. Starting Sunday, The Spokesman-Review and Spokane Chronicle will add one full page devoted to the Olympics to the daily sports report.

Friday, February 12, 1988

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From → KREM, KXLY

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