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WAS IOC LOOKING TO PROTECT TV PARTNERS IN IBM BREAKUP?
Published August 19, 1998
There's "more than meets the eye" to the IOC's "failed talks" with IBM over a new eight-year sponsorship deal, according to Josh Rubin of the TORONTO STAR. IBM, which has been a major Olympic sponsor since 1960, "figured being the technical supplier and a major sponsor" to the IOC, which would give it the rights to handle official Olympic Web sites. But the IOC wanted to package out those rights separately, at the same time breaking up IBM's technological "hold" on the Olympics by "going with different suppliers for hardware and software." The IOC "felt threatened," due to IBM's "natural instinct when it comes to Web design ... to push the envelope, taking advantage of any improvement in delivery of text, video and audio." Rubin reports that "none of these Internet advances would be helpful to TV broadcasters" and that it would be "extraordinarily difficult for the IOC to slap [IBM] down if it pushed the envelope too hard for the broadcaster's liking. A multi- billion-dollar gorilla can do what it wants to do with its Web site." IOC VP Richard Pound said that with TV rights sold through 2008, "we've got to make sure we don't do anything which would harm the rightsholders." Eventually, TV rightsholders could be licensed to run video and audio on their own, or, as Pound suggests, "pay a few extra dollars" to "produce the official Olympic site" (TORONTO STAR, 8/19).