BBC Faces Free-To-Air Fight To Keep U.K. Olympic TV Rights
IOC President Jacques Rogge said that he has "opened the post-London Olympic television rights in the UK beyond the BBC to other broadcasters and telecommunications companies," according to Jacquelin Magnay of the London TELEGRAPH. He added that a deal is "likely to be struck just before" the July 27 Opening Ceremony. Negotiations for the '14 Sochi Winter Olympics and the '16 Rio Summer Olympics "have been a lengthy process with the BBC, which struck a bargain" $94M (all figures U.S.) rights deal for the London Olympics. The IOC has already "stitched up broadcast deals across most of the major markets, with the UK tender following just days after the Premier League rights were sold to Sky and BT" for a record $4.7B three-year price. Olympic officials believe a "similar tie-in between a pay TV network and a free-to-air station may alleviate the UK government’s current requirement that Olympic coverage, as one of the sporting crown jewels, must be shown entirely on free-to-air." Rogge said that the IOC was "following European Union law and opening the tender for everyone to be involved." Rogge: “Agencies could buy the rights, it is not necessarily limited to a broadcast company. But what we look for is the guarantee of the coverage and the quality.” The Olympic tender "offers the future Olympic rights across a range of categories, including free to air, cable and satellite, internet, mobile and tablet with interested parties having to submit detailed offerings by June 29" (London TELEGRAPH, 6/16).