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Internet radio loses Olympic match

Some Australian media outlets shut down their Net radio streams to avoid conflict with the International Olympic Committee.

Some Australian broadcast outlets have been forced to shut down their Internet radio broadcasting streams to avoid breaching the International Olympic Committee's strict rules governing use of games material.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation and heavyweight Sydney radio station 2GB are two of those that have largely shut down their radio broadcasting streams for the duration of the games.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said that it has redistribution rights for Olympic material for radio use but is restricted from streaming any of the material online. It has largely shut down all but one of its Internet radio streams.

Additionally, a representative for 2GB confirmed a message on the station's Web site that read "Unfortunately, 2GB's live Internet stream will be offline until August 30, after the completion of the Olympic Games."

"The IOC has restricted rights so that we can't mention the Olympic Games at all, so therefore we can't stream any station that has news bulletins," said Ian Vaile, head of content for new media and digital services at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Vaile said the only Australian Broadcasting Corporation station to remain streaming 24 hours online is Dig, an all-music youth station. Another station, Triple J, will also be broadcast online during non-news hours, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., he said, along with certain segments of the Classic FM station.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation could face being sued by the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, should it breach the no-broadcast rule, Vaile said. The network could also have its accreditation withdrawn from covering the games in Athens.

"It happened to one broadcaster in the 2000 Olympics; they had their accreditation suspended because of a breach of rights," he said.

According to Vaile, the IOC had special units to pursue possible breaches of the broadcasting rules in Sydney during the Olympics.

Vaile said that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation prior to the games unsuccessfully sought an exemption from IOC rules so that it could continue streaming two of its stations.

Vaile added that, as part of the rules, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation will not have the rights to "ever" broadcast any of the Olympic Games material online.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's online station streams--with the exception of the Dig channel--were turned off last Wednesday night at 6 p.m., before the soccer competition went to air, Vaile said, and the company is now unsure of when it will be allowed to resume online broadcasting.

"Not sure exactly when we can begin streaming again, but we want to as soon as possible," he said.

Abby Dinham of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney.
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