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Thanks to a pair of recent high-level government decisions, ABC-TV's coverage of the Munich Olympics, which will be the most exhaustive in sports history, finds the network caught in an apparent profit squeeze even before the eternal flame gets lit. The squeeze will not curtail this year's 61� hours of exposure but it must certainly give instant pause to television's decision-makers when they contemplate future extravaganzas of this sort.
ABC will have invested four years of hard labor and more than $20 million to prepare for the 17 days of programming it has scheduled—what with 30 hours of coverage tucked into 10 week-night slots starting Aug. 28 and ending Sept. 8. Each evening will present three hours of prime-time programming, while other networks are offering the final gasp of TV's summer reruns. ABC expects to cash in mightily on the lack of competition.
Because Munich is five hours ahead of the U.S. Eastern time zone, all nighttime coverage will be taped from earlier action that same day. In addition to the tapes, the network will provide some 18 hours of live coverage during three weekends of the Games, including, on Sept. 9, a "Ryun Special," the 1,500-meter finals, which are scheduled to begin about noon.
ABC Sales is figuring an average audience of 9.7 million sports-happy homes, and 20 sponsors have eagerly bought up all 451 commercial minutes (at $48,000 each). Considering that this comes to a very tidy gross revenue of $21,648,000, why the profit-and-loss tears? Well, that's television, and ABC paid the Germans $13,500,000 for Olympic rights and facilities, and other expenses doubtless will push the final total into the red. The two political setbacks since the package was awarded are last year's revaluation of the German mark (a $1.9 million blow) and the FCC's refusal to waive the local prime-time rule, which will cost the network another $1.1 million.
Obviously, the cost of gold, silver and bronze has gone out of sight.
ACC OPENS THE DOOR
After a federal court judged it illegal and discriminatory, the Atlantic Coast Conference, which had been the only major league in the country to have a minimum college board entrance requirement for participation in sports, abandoned its rule. Previously, ACC colleges had not permitted anyone with less than 800 on his college boards to take part in athletics, unless he also had a 1.75 grade prediction average instead of the NCAA's required 1.6.
ACC football coaches, especially Hootie Ingram at Clemson and Jerry Claiborne at Maryland, had been the most vocal in condemning the rule, which impeded their recruiting. ACC basketball coaches, who have built strong national powers under the old rule, had not complained.