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  • Bidders Want U.S. TV Rights Through 2020; Sochi Progress


    IOC Mulls Expanding TV Rights Deal Through 2020

    The IOC is considering packaging the U.S. TV rights for four Olympics instead of the usual two.
    Richard Carrion (left) will lead the negotiations for a new TV rights deal in the U.S. He's pictured here with IOC president Jacques Rogge. (Getty Images)

    The Associated Press reported Thursday that the major players are interested in a deal that would include the 2014 through 2020 Olympics.

    The IOC’s lead negotiator Richard Carrion told AP the bidding war would be waged among NBC, ESPN, Fox and perhaps a CBS/Turner coalition.

    "We realize this is a major decision going forward for any of these guys," the IOC member from Puerto Rico said. “I would certainly support it if they want to go to four games, and do all the way to 2020."

    The cost of an expanded rights package could reach upwards of $4 billion, double the amount IOC president Jacques Rogge has indicated he’d like to see when bids are opened later this year.

    The incumbent NBC has dibs on London 2012, and Rogge will be working alongside Carrion to see that future rights holders pay the cash they believe the Olympics are worth in the U.S.

    Rogge captains the exclusive TV Rights and New Media Commission, but the organization of bidding falls to Carrion, who meets regularly with the networks to stoke interest in airing Sochi 2014 and Rio de Janeiro 2016. If the IOC gives life to the idea of an expanded rights package, he’ll have another two Games to sell but won’t know the 2018 host until July 6 and the 2020 host until 2013.

    The IOC has taken its time to seek a new deal for the U.S., hoping to ride out a recession to get the best price possible. The U.S. TV rights are the IOC’s single-largest source of revenue.

    The rights package expansion will likely be discussed at next week’s IOC Executive Board meeting in Lausanne. Whether for two Games or for four, negotiations with networks are expected to begin soon.

    "It seems like this is something that should happen probably in the second quarter of the year," Carrion told AP. "The economy in the U.S. seems to be giving off positive signs. It certainly behooves us to start getting ready."

    Carrion sounds optimistic, and so too does Rogge.

    "We believe we have a good product,” he told ATR in an interview last month.

    “We are heartened by good TV ratings in Beijing and Vancouver. So I think the broadcasters know we mean business.”

    Russian President Inspects Sochi Progress

    Dmitry Medvedev is in Sochi this week to tour Games preparations ahead of a March visit from the IOC Coordination Commission.
    “The pace is good,” says Russian president Dmitry Medvedev of Sochi’s Olympic preparations. (Getty Images)

    According to Russian media, the president visited a new hospital Wednesday as well as the recently renovated second runway at the host city’s airport.

    “The pace is good,” he was quoted by Itar-Tass. “It really can be seen what will be done.”

    Per IOC recommendations, the hospital in Krasnaya Polyana will have equipment for orthopedics, surgery, intensive care, rehabilitation and radiation therapy. The facility will see up to 100 patients a day during the 2014 Games, and 150 beds will be available for overnight stays.

    Later Wednesday, Medvedev inspected the newly lengthened second runway at Sochi’s airport. Builders finished adding 1000 feet of tarmac in November, and a successful test landing followed last week. Organizers must be able to guarantee the IOC a total of 24 takeoffs and landings per hour.

    Throughout his visit, the weather has seemed to worry the Russian president more than any of the Games construction.

    “We need to settle a variety of issues, including the issue of snow,” he said Tuesday during a meeting with Olympic officials at the Rosa Khutor resort.

    “For the second year the winter here is essentially snow-free in January. And although the Olympics are held at other time period, we need to make sure that we have no problems that Vancouver faced last year.”

    The Coordination Commission led by French IOC member Jean-Claude Killy will pay its fifth visit to Sochi from March 22 to 24.

    Fasel on Olympics

    International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel says the federation will do everything it can to secure NHL stars at future Olympic Games.
    Russia trailed by three goals in the third period but came back to win the gold medal match, 5-3. (IIHF)

    “We want the NHL players there. The players want to be there. We’re going to do what we can to make it happen. Our door is wide open.” Fasel made the comments following the IIHF Junior World Championships in Buffalo, N.Y. on Wednesday.

    Currently NHL players will not go to Sochi. The current collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union, which allows players to compete at the Olympics, expires next season.

    Fasel met with the union’s chief Donald Fehr ahead of the championships.

    NHL team owners are also concerned about lost revenue due to stopping the season and any other disruptions that could happen. The NHL says its concerns deal with greater control and access to its players during the Olympics.
    According to Fasel, the league and its owners don’t need to fret.

    “We think we treat the players very well. Better access for the NHL owners, media, TV? Those are all small things. Those can easily be done.”

    He also doesn’t see younger players heading to the Olympics. "For me, the Olympics are the biggest sporting event in the world and we have to have the best players. And I think the best players want to be in the Olympic Games.”

    Russia defeated Canada to win junior world champs gold 5-3. The Russians continued their celebration onto their return plane and were booted off for unruly behavior.

    USA claimed bronze over Sweden 4-2.

    The men’s world championship takes place in Slovakia April 29-May 15.

    Media Watch

    Some Olympians who competed in combat sports such as judo and wrestling are turning to mixed martial arts following their Olympic career.

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    Written by Matthew Grayson.

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