Television: Joint organizer of the Games

On Friday, August 13, the world’s gaze centered on the Olympic Stadium in Athens. The city had become the navel of the earth, breaking every television viewing record. A total of 300 networks are broadcasting from Athens, in what will be 35,000 hours of coverage (2,000 hours a day), compared with 29,600 hours in Sydney and 20,000 hours in Barcelona. For the Games’ two weeks, hundreds of thousands of people will be watching the same events in a coordinated moment only the Games or the soccer Mundial can deliver. In recent decades, the Olympic Games have emerged as a media event of such unprecedented size it is difficult to separate the sporting aspect from the television aspect. Many say that the television spectacle has outshone the Games themselves. Louis Bassat, producer of the Olympic ceremonies in Barcelona, described the Games as «the biggest advertising spot» of his career. As the income from television rights has become a primary source of funds for the Games, television networks, advertising agencies and multinational corporations that are connected with them have increasingly assumed the role of joint organizers. The enhanced role of the media is symbolized by the fact that journalists now outnumber the athletes. In Athens, 10,500 athletes are participating, while journalists number more than 12,000. In addition, there are some 4,000 producers and technicians at the Athens Olympic Broadcasting (AOB) and thousands more in each country.

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