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Rogers / Bell / CTV Win Olympic Rights


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Maybe now with 5 sports channels at their disposal we'll finally see some decent coverage of soccer at the games.


We got game: Rogers to broadcast 2010 Olympics

The broadcast consortium is planning more than 4,000 hours of coverage from Vancouver and Whistler.

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (CP) -- The Olympics have a new TV home in Canada. And for the first time the price tag of the Winter Games has exceeded that of the Summer Games.

A consortium involving Rogers Communications, Bell Globemedia and CTV was awarded Canadian television rights Monday for the plum 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and the 2012 Summer Olympics, another high-profile event with a quintet of glamourous cities bidding to host.

IOC president Jacques Rogge said the winning bid was $153 million US, an increase of 124 per cent on the $73 million spent for the 2006 and 2008 Games.

Of that, $90 million US is for the 2010 Games and $63 million for the 2012 Games.

"This is the first time that the amount for the Games exceeds the Summer Games," IOC Finance Commission chairman Richard Carrion told an IOC news conference.

"We certainly believe that 2010 will be the biggest sport events in Canada this decade, may well be the biggest event in Canada this decade," added Ivan Fecan, president and CEO of Bell Globemedia.

"We really felt we needed to be part of it and right at the centre of it. We also think there's a huge amount of interest, from viewers and advertisers for 2010."

The winning bid offers a wide-ranging Olympic menu of networks. CTV's subsidiaries include TSN, TQS, RDS and the Outdoor Life Network. Rogers holdings includes Rogers Sportsnet and the Omni channels, plus radio stations.

The winning bid offers round-the-clock coverage.

CTV will get the glamour items on the Olympic calendar, with TSN and Rogers Sportsnet offering more in-depth look at certain events. Outdoor Life will also play a role, as will the consortium's ethnic and aboriginal stations.

In Quebec, TQS will be the main carrier with RDS also helping out in coverage.

More than 4,000 hours of coverage is planned.

Fecan called it the "most inclusive (Olympic) coverage" in Canada.

CBC paid a Canadian record $45 million US for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, part of a $165-million US package deal for five Olympics back in 1998.

In contrast, CTV paid $4.3 million US in 1988 for rights to the Calgary Games.

The IOC declined to specify financial details from the CBC bid. But CBC's website, citing sources, said "there was a wide disparity in the amount of money each camp was willing to offer."

Fecan called his offer "a strategic but responsible bid."

It's more bad news for CBC Sports, which is already suffering from the NHL lockout. There had been speculation the network might reduce its amateur sports coverage if it lost the bid.

The loss is also a blow to the overall prestige of the CBC, which has broadcast every Olympics since 1996, recently sharing coverage with TSN. It also holds the rights to the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.

"We would like to acknowledge the CBC for their efforts," Carrion said. "They've been an excellent partner and will continue to be our partner in 2006 in Turin and 2008 in Beijing.

"This was obviously a very good result for the IOC. It was a very hotly contested negotiation."

CTV broadcast the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, the '92 Summer Games in Barcelona and the '94 Winter Games in Lillehammer.

One source told The Canadian Press that CBC went into the bidding knowing they didn't have enough cash to win.

"They knew their bid was not going to be enough," said the source.

"What the strategy was, if it was close, people would look at the fact CBC does a good job of broadcasting the Games and is pretty dedicated to amateur sports in the country."

But the decision is a resounding victory for the alliance of private broadcasters, led by CTV Inc. and Rogers Communications Inc., and points to the intertwining of media interests.

CTV is owned by BCE Inc., which also owns Bell Canada. Bell paid $200 million Canadian for the telecommunication rights for the 2010 Games.

London, Madrid, Moscow, New York and Paris are all vying to host the 2012 Games. The IOC will decide the 2012 host city July 6 in Singapore.

The stakes are high because of 2010. With the Games in Vancouver, Canadian interest will be sky-high.

NBC has already paid $2.201 billion US for the American television rights for the 2010 and 2012 Olympics. That deal included $820 million US for the 2010 Games.

The IOC will share a percentage of television revenues with the Vancouver Games organizing committee.

Monday's decision came after each network made a two-hour presentation and then handed over a sealed bid.

The CBC option involved its main network, CBC Newsworld, its French service, the digital channel CBC Country Canada and its radio network. CBC was also allied with The Score on this bid, giving it another cable outlet.

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