No Al Roker Live from Tiananmen Square?

For anyone looking forward to seeing Al Roker do a stand-up from Tiananmen Square this summer when the Today show ramps up into Olympics mode, the Wall Street Journal regrets to inform you:

TV crews from around the globe had assumed they would be allowed to broadcast live images from the host city’s iconic locations, and follow potential breaking news in China beyond the sports venues. But since early May, Beijing officials have declined to approve applications for the satellite hookups media companies need to provide live coverage of Beijing, according to media companies.

In other words, companies like NBC Universal which, the Journal reports, “paid $5.7 billion for the status of official Olympics broadcaster in the U.S. from 2000 to 2012” will be able to film live from the Games and within the official facilities but without wider satellite feeds broadcasting “live stories elsewhere in the city, a staple of Olympic programs,” would be hindered. (So Roker and his colleague Matt Lauer could reprise their 2004 synchronized swimming spoof, provided the pool is inside the Olympic Village.)

“Adding to the delicateness of the issue for NBC,” the Journal notes, is the fact that its parent company, General Electric Co., has substantial business interests in China.”

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.