SBD/Issue 204/Sports Media

Ebersol Believes USOC's Plans For TV Net Could Hurt Chicago Bid

Ebersol Feels Possibility Of USOC
Network Jeopardizes Chicago's Bid
NBC Sports & Olympics Chair Dick Ebersol criticized the USOC's new Olympic TV network, blaming the organization for "jeopardizing Chicago's chances to win the 2016 Summer Olympics," according to Philip Hersh of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. IOC officials last week also expressed frustration with the USOC's announcement of the network, and Ebersol said the "only thing that can cost Chicago the Games is continuing squabbles between the two parties." Ebersol: "This one clearly is all on the USOC, no two ways about it. ... Chicago has the best American bid I have ever seen. It is heartbreaking to see the continuing USOC-IOC squabbles get in the middle of it." But when asked whether the latest tension between the two organizations "doomed Chicago's bid," Ebersol said, "Absolutely not." Ebersol added Chicago needs to "make sure the IOC knows they were blind-sided just like the IOC was and that they will do their best as intermediaries to bring peace to the valley." Ebersol, who confirmed he was "aware of the IOC's position, denied he or NBC had any role in making the dispute public." He said, "I don't want to diminish the USOC. I have no intent of doing anything other than hoping the parties will get together as soon as possible and work this out" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/12). CRAIN's CHICAGO BUSINESS' Ed Sherman writes, "Ebersol has been dealing with the [IOC] for more than 20 years. If anyone knows how the IOC works, it is him" (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 7/13).

LET'S TALK IT OVER: A USOC official said that plans are "being made for talks" between the IOC and USOC, though there is "no word on when meetings might be scheduled to resolve the differences." However, IOC Marketing Commission Chair Gerhard Heiberg said that the U.S. Olympic Network "can be a plus for the U.S." Heiberg: "They have been talking about this for a long time and finally they launch it. I hope and think it will be a positive thing for the U.S. It will draw a lot of attention to the Olympic Games and Olympic sports." Heiberg added that he "does not believe the Olympic TV channel could spell trouble for the Chicago 2016 bid." Heiberg: "I don't think it will have an impact on the voting of IOC members. If it should, it might even be positive. ... The U.S. is putting more emphasis on Olympic sports." IOC member Gunilla Lindberg added, "It is always good to keep the profile up every year for the Olympic Games and the Olympic Movement" (AROUNDTHERINGS.com, 7/10). DAILY VARIETY's Cynthia Littleton noted the "question of whether the IOC can block the USOC from moving forward with the channel remains up in the air" (VARIETY.com, 7/12).

STAYING THE COURSE: The AP's Eddie Pells reported NBC "plans on bidding for rights to televise the 2014 and 2016 Olympics" despite the new network. NBC Sports Senior Dir of Communications Brian Walker yesterday said that "nothing had changed in the network's intentions to bid for the games." The IOC is likely to postpone bidding for the two Games "until after the 2016 Games are awarded in October." NBC has televised every Olympic Games since '00 (AP, 7/12).

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