CCTV gives behind-the-scenes tour

NBC bristles during look at foreign media

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BEIJING -- On Friday afternoon, as citizens of China's capital prepared for a night in front of the TV, China Central Television took viewers on a behind-the-scenes tour of the International Broadcast Center, where the Beijing Olympics is being produced for world viewers.

Veteran CCTV journalist Shi Xuping wandered the halls of the state-of-the-art complex, chatting with producers from all the biggies in global broadcasting -- companies with whom Olympics organizers had more than a few disagreements over the past few months about freedom of media access during the Games.

Mexico's Televisa welcomed Shi and his cameraman onto its brightly colored soundstage -- replete with a replica of the Tiananmen gate adorned with the famous portrait of Chairman Mao -- but NBC denied him access to anything but the control room.

When Shi's camera focused in on a monitor showing the soundstage, his NBC guide asked him not to film it, turning the tables, for once, in who's restricting whose access. CCTV aired images of the NBC soundstage anyway.

A ZDF producer said there were 500 staff members working on its team at this Games, making for the biggest team they'd ever assembled for any event.

Still, ZDF's team pales next to NBC's team of 3,000, which Shi said will be served 250,000 meals and consume 15,000 pounds of coffee before the tournament is over.

A producer from South Korea's SBS said its team was only 126 strong and that, while the few of them who leaked footage of an opening ceremony rehearsal had not apologized, as was reported, they did feel regret.

NHK from Japan has 246 people in Beijing and Shi, wandering around their control room, noted in an aside to the camera, that CCTV's equipment was more modern than the Japanese gear.

Further CCTV boasting about the modernity of its broadcast surrounded the airing of a rare aerial shot of the Bird's Nest during a newscast at 6 p.m. The helicopter flew through gray air above the national stadium. "This is modern broadcasting," said commentator Sha Tong, one of CCTV's best-known sports reporters.