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IOC Rejects European Broadcast Offer

From the Associated Press:

The International Olympic Committee has rejected a bid by Europe's public broadcasters to buy rights to show the 2014 and 2016 Olympics, the European Broadcasting Union said Tuesday.
The move signals a split between the International Olympic Committee and the EBU, an umbrella organization whose members have aired the summer and winter games on free television since 1956.
The EBU has traditionally won the bidding because its 75 members in 56 countries have the most viewers. It claims to reach 650 million people every week. But the IOC now wants to raise more money by striking separate deals for individual countries.
"We very much regret the decision of the IOC," EBU president Fritz Pleitgen said in a statement. "EBU members were surprised by the high financial expectations of the IOC."
The EBU paid $443.4 million to show the Beijing Games and $135 million for the 2006 Turin Games. It also bought rights for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and 2012 Summer Games in London for $746 million in 2004.
The EBU did not disclose how much it bid for the 2014-16 rights. "We took note of the EBU declarations," IOC vice president Thomas Bach, a member of the commission that negotiates European TV rights, told The Associated Press. "We will continue to work with them for the 2010 and 2012 games."
EBU president-elect Jean-Paul Philippot said the global financial crisis would have an effect on the value of sports broadcasts.
"The EBU's offer (for 2014 and 2016) reflected the maximum price public service broadcasters could pay for the rights," said Philippot, who represents Belgian station RTBF.
In a statement Tuesday, the IOC said it followed European Union rules in making the deals.
"The IOC is conducting a fair and open bidding process giving all interested parties -- broadcast unions, agencies and individual broadcasters, including EBU members -- the opportunity to acquire 2014-2016 Olympic Games broadcast rights in Europe," IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said.
She said further European deals would be announced when they are finalized.
TV rights fees -- which currently total around $3 billion for a four-year cycle -- provide the bulk of the IOC's revenue. About half goes to Olympic host cities, with the rest split among the IOC, international sport federations and national Olympic committees.
The EBU was alerted to the change in the IOC's policy over the past year when the Olympic body sold its first European rights to the 2014 and 2016 games to two pay-TV stations owned by Rupert Murdoch.
Sky Italia bought rights that had previously been held by Italy's state broadcaster RAI, and Fox Turkey outbid competition to replace state-owned TRT. The 2014 Winter Olympics are being held in Sochi, Russia. The 2016 host city will be chosen next October. The finalists are Chicago; Tokyo; Madrid, Spain; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

By Amy Shipley  |  December 3, 2008; 7:17 AM ET
Categories:  IOC  
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