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CBC joins with TSN to bring big Olympic Games picture into your living room
(CP) – CBC plans to bring the big Olympic picture into your living room during the Athens Games.
From live coverage of the opening ceremonies on Aug. 13 to the extinguishing of the Games flame 16 days later, Canadians will be treated to more than 1,000 hours of Olympic coverage from the combined French and English resources of CBC and TSN. You’ll be able to tune in on television, listen on radio or log on via the Net.
“One of the things we’re very pleased with is the 24-hour access we’re giving viewers in both languages across the country,” said Nancy Lee, executive director of CBC Sports.
“Having the CBC on the main channel as well as TSN allows us to do that.”
The triumphs and sorrows of Canadian athletes will be highlighted along with the big international stories during the daily 10 hours of live broadcasting.
“Canadians also want to see the big picture,” says veteran Brian Williams, who will host CBC’s prime-time coverage.
“Our coverage is simply reflective of our country. We tend to be outward looking. We tend to take a global perspective. We will show more than one nation.”
While CBC’s mandate is to try and give a taste of as many sports as it can each day, TSN will offer a full meal deal, says Rick Chisholm, the network’s vice-president of production.
“The Olympics are so large you can’t cover a lot of the sports,” says Chisholm.
“What really gets missed are a lot of sports like baseball or softball or soccer, where people see only portions. TSN’s commitment will be, if we go to a game, we will stay at that game. If we’re going to do a baseball game, then we will show the whole game.”
In Athens, Terry Leibel will host CBC’s morning coverage, with Ron MacLean taking over in the afternoon. Williams will anchor the evening prime time show. Between them, the three have hosted 20 Olympics.
TSN will anchor its Olympic broadcasts from Toronto. Dave Randorf will host the afternoon and primetime shows while Gino Reda will man the overnight broadcast.
Providing commentary and colour during the Games will be CBC Olympic veterans like Steve Armitage, Scott Oake and Don Wittman.
Adding their expert insight and analysis will be former Olympic stars like Donovan Bailey (athletics), Waneek Horn-Miller (water polo), Marnie McBean (rowing), Mark Tewksbury (swimming) and reporter Catriona Le May Doan, a two-time speed skating gold medallist.
“What we’re looking for Catriona to do is provide us stories that are directly linked and related to the athletes,” said Terry Ludwick, executive producer for CBC’s Sports Athens coverage.
“The athletes that are speaking to her have a better feeling that she understands where they are mentally.”
The Athens Olympics have been stalked by construction delays, security concerns and fears of travel chaos. Temperatures are expected to each 40 degrees and the Games could be shrouded under a blanket of pollution.
Ludwick said any hardships on the ground won’t affect the pictures being sent home.
“I don’t want behind-the-scenes problems to affect viewers,” he said.
“The Summer Olympics are always unwieldy to deal with because of the amount of sports. It’s likely to be a challenge.”
CBC is sending a crew of 380 to cover the Games, including 12 TSN employees. There will also be staff from French and English services, plus Newsworld, radio and on-line.
Chisholm said TSN will send an additional 10 people, including reporters Farhan Laliji and Ryan Rishaug.
CBC TV will broadcast 294.5 hours of Olympic coverage, 84 in prime time. CBC Newsworld will show 115 hours and TSN 150 hours.
The network plans to broadcast live overnight during the first weekend of the Games to show the rowing finals and on the second weekend for the canoe-kayak. Canadians expect to be medal contenders both weekends.
Ludwick said over 1,000 cameras will be deployed at the Olympics, compared to the 30 used at a Super Bowl.
The one new technological innovation expected at the Games is a camera mounted on the hurdles, which will give viewers a new perspective of Perdita Felicien’s attempt for gold in 100-metre hurdles.
CBC and TSN have combined resources in three previous Games, the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and the 1998 Pan Ams in Winnipeg.
Williams said the “partnership has worked extremely well.”
“The more that’s there, the bigger the variety, the better it is for the viewer.”
Chisholm said joining the two rivals has made for “a strange relationship.”
“We look at CBC as our competition, we certainly don’t think of working in cahoots with them,” he said.
“This event is different since it’s so massive you really do need two carriers. In a lot of cases you have to put the ego away. You have to keep asking yourself what is best for the viewer.”
Lee said CBC expects to reach its sales expectations for the Games but won’t speculate on whether the network will turn a profit.
“We’ll do all right,” she said.
A look at CBC-TSN’s television coverage for the Athens Summer Olympic Games:
Hours of Broadcasting: CBC 294.5; CBC Newsworld 115; Radio-Canada 223; TSN 150.
Staff: 380.
CBC: Will broadcast opening and closing ceremonies live, provide daily coverage of events, highlights and interviews.
TSN: Will provide live broadcast of team sports and extended coverage of events like boxing, swimming and rowing.
CBC Anchors (in Athens): Terry Leibel morning, Ron MacLean afternoon, Brian Williams evening prime time show.
TSN Anchors (in Toronto): Dave Randorf, afternoon and primetime show. Gino Reda overnight.
Olympic Analysts: Donovan Bailey (athletics), Waneek Horn-Miller (water polo), Marnie McBean (rowing), Mark Tewksbury (swimming) and Catriona Le May Doan (reporter).
Quote: “It’s our goal and objective to connect people to Athens and make them feel part of something that connects the world,” Terry Ludwick, executive producer for CBC’s Sports Athens coverage.