Source: www.insidethegames.biz

By Duncan Mackay

Michael Phelps. Photo: APJune 5 - A figure of more than $4 billion (£2.4 billion) could be tabled by one of the major United States television networks when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) begin meetings in Lausanne tomorrow to decide which channel should broadcast the Olympics after London 2012.

Richard Carrion, the Puerto Rican who is the chairman and chief executive of financial services conglomerate Popular, Inc as well as being a senior member of the IOC, will lead the negotiations, which have been pushed back because of the worldwide economic crisis.

Representatives from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp Fox Sports, Walt Disney Co. comapny ESPN with ABC, and Comcast's NBC Universal will all be making presentations to the IOC at the Beau Rivage Palace in Lausanne about their proposed Olympic coverage.

CBS, the other major US network, has abandoned plans to bid in conjunction Time Warner Inc.'s Turner Broadcasting cable unit as originally planned due to a change in strategy.

NBC currently hold the rights, having paid $2.2 billion ($1.3 billion) for Vancouver 2010 and London 2012, bidding $700 million (£426 million) more than ESPN and Fox when they were awarded in 2003.

They have broadcast every Summer Olympics since Seoul in 1988 and every Winter Games since Salt Lake City in 2002 and will broadcast London 2012.

But their planning has been thrown into confusion by surprise announcement last month Dick Ebersol had resigned as chairman after 22 years.

Robert_Iger_with_Micky_MouseNBC's team is now being led by chief executive Steve Burke and Comcast chief executive Brian Robertson, ESPN by chief executive George Bodenheimer and Disney head Robert Iger (pictured) while Fox Sports will be represented by chairman David Hill, the man who helped launch BSkyB in Britain and was involved in the early negotiations for broadcsting England's Premier League.

Each bidder is expected to make two-hour presentations behind closed doors to senior IOC members, starting with Fox tomorrow afternoon.

They will be followed by ESPN on Tuesday (June 7) morning and NBC Tuesday afternoon.

A decision is expected late Tuesday.

The winning bidder is expected to pay more than $2 billion (£1.2 billion) for the Olympics in Sochi in 2014 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and over $4 billion (£2.4 billion) if the deal is extended to also include the Games in 2018 and 2020, which have yet to be awarded by the IOC.

The Unites States Olympic Committee (USOC), with chairman Larry Probst, chief executive Scott Blackmun, general counsel and chief of legal and Government affairs Rana Dershowitz and chief communications officer Patrick Sandusky, have all travelled to Lausanne to be on hand for the negotiations.·

The USOC currently receives a 12.75 percent share of US television rights deals.

The IOC are confident that the deal will be financially massive.

"We've got a full house and I'm hoping for the best," Carrion told The Associated Press today.

Carrion claimed that the departure of Ebersol did not lessen NBC's determination to retain the rights, even though they lost $220 million (£134 million) on their broadcast from Vancouver last year.

"They reiterated that they are extremely interested, and judging from the team they've brought here, I take them at their word," Carrion told AP.

"It's just way too important for them.

"I expect them to play to win.

"We obviously expect a higher figure [than last year], and that's it."

Contact the writer of this story at duncan.mackay@insidethegames.biz


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