NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus tried to split the baby and wound up butchering it this afternoon at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2013, when he said the network’s upcoming coverage of the Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi “comes with political and social issues” which NBC will address — “as they are relevant at the time of the game, as has always been the case.” Then, without missing a beat, he began to “we cannot wait to get to Sochi, very optimistic about the U.S. team, biggest Winter Olympics ever,” blah blah, blah, while TV critics in the hall tried to recover from the whiplash. Russia’s newly-adopted anti-gay laws have some calling for NBC to boycott the Games (The International Olympic Committee has said it will “work to ensure” that LGBT athletes competing in the games will not face danger or legal issues).
Among those calling for boycott, HRC President Chad Griffin reportedly wrote a letter to NBCUniversal CEO Stephen Burke, saying the media conglom has a “responsibility to expose this inhumane and unjust law to the millions of American viewers who will tune in to watch the Games.” Griffin said it would be wrong for NBCU “to air the opening ceremonies, which is an hours-long advertisement for the host country, without acknowledging that a whole segment of the Russian population — not to mention foreign athletes and visitors — can be jailed for an immutable aspect of their identity.”
NBC’s response — at the Press Tour anyway — was Lazarus’s baby-splitting act: “The IOC has addressed it with the Russian government and has been assured athletes, fans, and the media there will not be any issues with regard to what takes place during the Games,” he said. (more…)