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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Olympics: IOC still hopes for TV deal in 2010 but could wait

AP Sports Writer

LONDON The IOC still hopes to negotiate the U.S. television rights for the 2014 and 2016 Olympics this year but could delay the bidding if the advertising market remains weak.

Richard Carrion, the International Olympic Committee official who handles the U.S. rights, said Tuesday the IOC will assess the situation after next month's Winter Games in Vancouver to determine the timeframe for bidding.

"Our preference is to do it in 2010," Carrion told The Associated Press. "Our preference is to do it as quickly as possible. But it really is going to depend on the market more than anything else."

The negotiations had already been postponed last year because of the global financial downturn, but the IOC was planning to open the bidding sometime in 2010 due to the improving U.S. economy.

Carrion, a banking executive from Puerto Rico who serves on the IOC executive board, said the Olympic body could delay the talks if necessary.

"We really have the ability to wait," he said in a telephone interview. "There's no real deadline."

After the Feb. 22-28 Vancouver Games, Carrion said, the IOC will "take another reading of the market and if it's time to go or not."

IOC president Jacques Rogge said in a recent AP interview that there was no rush to make a deal.

"The bottom line is we want a better economy," he said. "The economy is recovering. We are going to make as assessment of the U.S. economy especially in terms of broadcasting, advertising and these kinds of thing immediately after the (Vancouver) Games, and from then we will determine our time line.

"We're not in a hurry. There is still plenty of time to negotiate."

U.S. broadcast rights represent the biggest single source of income for the Olympic movement. NBC secured the rights to the 2010 Games and 2012 London Olympics for $2 billion.

At stake in the next round of bidding will be the rights to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Along with NBC, potential contenders include ESPN-ABC, Fox and a joint bid from CBS and Turner.

"Obviously things in the market place are not the best right now," Carrion said. "That's reflected in advertising rates. It's tough to predict these things from six, seven years out. But we still think (the Olympics) is a premium, unique event unlike any other."

NBC Universal said recently it expects to lose money on the Vancouver Games. NBC sports chief Dick Ebersol said it will be the first time the network has lost money on the Olympics since he began producing the telecasts from Barcelona in 1992.

NBC's comments have been viewed as a possible tactic for lowering the IOC's expectations for the 2014-2016 bidding.

"Obviously I saw the comments, but let's wait until the Vancouver Games are over," Carrion said. "I think the Vancouver Games are going to be great games and they are going to generate a lot of interest. We still think it is a unique event in the world and that's why it commands the price that it does."