NBC, NABET reach deal on Olympics

Pact covers Sydney, Salt Lake City, Athens games

NBC has reached an agreement with the National Assn. of Broadcast Employees and Technicians for coverage of the summer Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000, the 2002 winter games in Salt Lake City and the Athens summer Olympics in 2004.

The agreement covers NBC engineering personnel and their representation by NABET, an arm of the Communications Workers of America. The network and the union also agreed to work together on coverage of the 2006 and 2008 Olympics once the sites for those events are selected.

NBC agreed to assign no fewer than 375 NABET-represented employees to the Sydney, Salt Lake City and Athens games.

“This long-term agreement shows what the parties can do when they work together for a common goal,” said NABET sector president John Clark. “It is a real benefit to our membership and we are hopeful that the positive momentum and spirit of cooperation of this agreement can carry over into our contract negotiations with NBC in 1999.”

The agreement, reached after a week of negotiations in New York City, spells out base rates of pay, assignment of regular work days, overtime, travel time, transportation, lodging, per diem payments, payback days, work space and credentials for NABET-CWA workers at Olympic sites.

The deal all but assures that NBC will not be targeted by job action during the Games, high-profile events which are expected to be major moneymakers for the net. An NBC spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.

The Peacock doubtless learned from the experience of ABC, whose NABET-represented employees have been without a contract since March 1997. In response to the lack of progress, NABET members have repeatedly threatened to scuttle ABC’s major televised events, and in November succeeded in causing ABC to cancel live coverage of the Tour Championship Golf tournament in Houston.

To keep the union from ordering a walkout at the Oscars telecast this year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences took over producing duties from ABC for the first time, with most of the tech crew signing up under an IATSE contract. NABET members picketed the March 23 Oscar show at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.