NBC warming up for '08 Olympics

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NEW YORK -- A year before the 2008 Summer Olympics, NBC is tuning up its coverage amid a new deal with AT&T and China Netcom that will provide digital TV for the games and play a key role in televising Wednesday's one-year countdown celebration from Beijing.

NBC's "Today" will cover the event live at 8:08 a.m. ET Wednesday from Tianamen Square in Beijing. It might be one of the first times a live TV signal has been broadcast without government control from inside the communist country after Chinese officials relaxed regulations this year, though that couldn't be confirmed late Monday.

It also will be the first run for a new circuit being established by AT&T and China Netcom, which will provide a signal to NBC from the event.

NBC's coverage will feature correspondent Mark Mullen and American swimmer Michael Phelps in Beijing as well as Olympic gold medalists Natalie Coughlin and Paul Hamm and Olympic hopeful Kate Ziegler with the "Today" crew at Rockefeller Plaza in New York.

"Today" has been running taped reports by co-anchor Meredith Vieira from her trip to China, including stories on the country's cuisine and the Beijing National Stadium -- also known as the "Bird's Nest"-- that is being built for some of the Olympic events.

AT&T announced Monday an agreement with China Netcom Group Co. to create a dedicated network between China and the U.S. for the digital signals for broadcast in the U.S. on NBC's TV networks. China Netcom is providing the fixed-line telecommunications for the Olympics after being picked to do so by the Beijing Olympics Organizing Committee.
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