The worldwide ban on streaming Olympic audio and video coverage over the Internet has forced the BBC World Service to stop broadcasting news and sports programmes over the Web.
To avoid infringing copyright, nothing which might accidentally refer to the Sydney Olympics will be broadcast on the World Service Internet audio feed for the duration of the Games. Listeners are instead treated to an apology. The International Olympic Committee's (IOC) ban prevents live Olympic coverage being broadcast over the Internet.
According to a World Service spokeswoman, any programme which might even mention the Olympics will be pulled."We can't broadcast any coverage from the Olympics over the Internet. No programmes which might potentially carry any Olympics references will be broadcast on the Web feed", she explained.
The spokeswoman could not say what proportion of the World Service's output would be affected. However, she acknowledged that a significant proportion of its output consisted of news and sport.
Another BBC station, London Live 94.9, has completely halted its Internet broadcasting between the hours of 6am and midnight. A statement on its Web site explains that the live audio stream is suspended because programming may contain Olympic coverage that is under copyright restriction from the Olympic committee. Its normal broadcasting over the London area is unaffected.
The IOC has clamped down on Web broadcasting to protect their existing broadcasting contracts with terrestrial television companies, which yielded £1.45bn. With the exception of NBCOlympics.com, who coughed up $750m for the privilege, no Web site may carry live coverage of the Olympics.
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