NBC exec sees a China already changed


NBC Sports & Olympics chairman Dick Ebersol said Wednesday that the Olympics and the recent Sichuan earthquake have brought an "incredible openness" to the country.

Ebersol said the quake, which has killed tens of thousands, has revealed how the country has changed in its coverage of the disaster and building safety as well as other issues.

"These are not things we would have read about or seen much about even in this country 10 years ago," Ebersol said of the stories coming out of the region. "Reporters would not have had this kind of access."

Ebersol said that when the International Olympic Committee gave the Summer Olympics to China in 2001, he came away with the feeling that it eventually would lead to a major change for the nation.

"I knew it would be a rocky road to get there and (that) there would be lots of protests and opposition movements, but I really believe, as I have seen happen so many times, every country (that has had the Olympics), particularly those who are not democracies, they were changing events for those societies," he said.

Ebersol's comments mark one of the few times in recent months that NBC execs have spoken publicly about August's Summer Games, which have been mired in controversy over human rights issues, Darfur and Tibet.

Some in the company have been nervous because NBC and parent company GE have a lot of money at stake with the Games.

"You have to say that once again, the Olympics have opened up another region of the world," Ebersol said. "Is it enough? Obviously not, but it is part of a process that always seems to come with the Olympics coming to a new area." (partialdiff)
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