EBU argues with IOC over Olympics

Since 1956 European viewers have been able to view the Olympic Games on free-to-air TV thanks to the collective negotiation of the European Broadcasting Union. But it seems EBU coverage of the 2014 and 2016 games is no longer assured.

Each of the EBU’s public broadcasting members pays a proportion of the costs of the International Olympic Committee’s fees to cover the TV sports rights for the games. The EBU holds the rights to cover the 2010 Winter Games and 2012 Summer Games in London.

A statement from the EBU’s Geneva HQ on Dec 2 said: “The IOC has rejected the EBU bid for the European broadcast rights for the Olympics Games 2014-2016. We very much regret the decision of the IOC. We have worked with the IOC since 1956 to deliver the Olympic Games to the broadest possible audience, and ensured maximum exposure of the Olympic Games, and also Olympic Sports between the Games,” said EBU President Fritz Pleitgen (ARD, Germany).

“We note that there are different views about the future monetary broadcast value of the Games. EBU Members were surprised by the high financial expectations of the IOC. We regret that, it seems, little account is taken of the additional high level of investment by the EBU in rights for, and the production and quality editorial coverage of, World-, European- and National Championships, across many Olympic sports.”

EBU President-elect, Jean-Paul Philippot (RTBF, Belgium), added : “The worldwide financial crisis will not stop at the doorstep of free-to air television; it will also have an impact on the value of broadcast rights for sports events. The EBU’s offer reflected the maximum price public service broadcasters could pay for the rights, our philosophy of investing in Olympic sports throughout the Olympiad (the four years between the summer Games), and the value of offering Olympic sports free of charge to all citizens”.

“We are sorry that we did not manage to convince the IOC of the importance of our global support of Olympic sport. We will now carefully analyse the consequences of the IOC decision on our sports-rights acquisition policy”, concluded Mr Philippot.