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TV Mix-Up With Tape Delay Cools Suspense in Final Set

One moment there was Jimmy Connors, trailing 4-5 and serving at deuce in the fifth set Monday against Aaron Krickstein in the U.S. Open.

The next there was Connors, leading 5-3 in a tiebreaker after the fifth set had gone to 6-6.

In between, the Channel 2 logo was on the screen for about 17 seconds.

Then Connors, leading 6-4 in the tiebreaker and at match point--and suddenly, a flicker on the TV screen and here was Connors, trailing 4-5 and serving to the ad court in the fifth set.

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What happened?

The suspense generated by Connors’ comeback from being down, 2-5, in the fifth set against Krickstein was shattered when an apparent malfunction in the tape-delayed network feed from New York to KCBS-TV took Southland viewers from confusion to enough anger to flood the KCBS switchboard and The Times sports department with calls.

“It got so bad that we had to switch to the automatic answering system,” Channel 2 Sports Director Keith Olbermann said.

He tried to answer questions whimsically on his 6:20 p.m. newscast, telling viewers that two things had happened: Connors had reached the quarterfinals on his 39th birthday, and “what you saw was not our fault.”

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Olbermann later said, “I tend to think that, since that stuff comes out of New York, the problem was there.”


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