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Highlights from NBC's Olympic coverage

Posted: Monday August 23, 2004 2:09AM; Updated: Monday August 23, 2004 2:18AM
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(AP) -- A look at NBC's coverage of the Summer Olympics from Athens:

HIGHLIGHT: Jimmy Roberts' well-written report on advances for women. He spotlighted the woman who carried Afghanistan's flag in the opening ceremonies and Robina Muqimyar, who sprinted for her country while wearing long pants for modesty. Neither would have been in Athens if the Taliban were still in power. Iraq also sent one female competitor, sprinter Alla Jassim. Five delegations, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, sent no women. All of this was happening, Roberts said, during an Olympics in a city named for a woman.

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LOWLIGHT: NBC dropped the ball by failing, during a four-hour prime-time telecast Saturday, to report on the controversy surrounding judging in the gymnastics all-around competition won by American Paul Hamm. NBC argues that the issue was covered at least five times earlier in the day Saturday, and there wasn't more to be said. But Hamm is a prime-time player whose inspirational victory dominated Wednesday night's telecast. Viewers of NBC's prime-time on Saturday -- its showcase broadcast of a long day -- deserved a complete report.

SPEED: Despite the Hamm oversight, Bob Costas deserves credit for a lyrical intro showing the importance of speed in Saturday's activities.

TOO MUCH INFORMATION: Beach volleyball announcer Chris Marlowe reported that American competitor Misty May and her father brought an urn with ashes of her late mother to Athens. "In spirit and essence, Barbara Mays is here," Marlowe said.

COMMERCIAL ALERT: Why did one of the best ads of the Olympics, that gentle VW spot where a couple takes an elderly lady's camera to the top of a mountain for shots of the majestic view, have to be followed by that incredibly annoying woman practicing ways of protecting her McDonald's chicken? Keep your chicken! Just go away.

QUOTE: "The hype said [swimmer Michael] Phelps would shine brightest at these games. And you know what? He did." -- Costas.

RATINGS: Saturday night's prime-time was seen by 22.5 million people, down about nine million from Thursday's peak, according to Nielsen Media Research. Saturday night, though, is the least-watched night of the week on TV. This year still ran ahead of Sydney's pace (21.4 million) for the same day.

WHEN TO WATCH MONDAY (TIMES EDT, SUBJECT TO CHANGE): NBC (12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.), track & field, beach volleyball, U.S. men's water polo vs. Serbia and Montenegro; NBC (8 p.m. to midnight), gymnastics individual gold medal event finals; men's 400 meter, men's discus and women's 800 meter finals, decathlon, beach volleyball; NBC (12:35 a.m. to 2 a.m.), U.S. men's volleyball vs. Brazil, hammer, women's 5,000 meters and triple jump, weightlifting; MSNBC (2 a.m to 7 a.m.), women's 20k walk, canoeing, wrestling; Bravo (5 a.m. to 10 a.m.), equestrian, men's table tennis gold medal finals; USA (7 a.m. to 11 a.m.), U.S. men's basketball vs. Angola; gold medal softball final; canoeing; MSNBC (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), women's soccer, women's gold medal wrestling finals; Bravo (5 p.m. to 8 p.m.), synchronized swimming, men's water polo, men's field hockey; CNBC (5 p.m. to 8 p.m.), boxing quarterfinals; Telemundo (10:55 a.m. to 8 p.m., 1:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m.), soccer, boxing quarterfinals, men's basketball.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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