New TV Deal Could See BBC Losing Olympic Rights

London 2012 could be the last Olympic Games to be broadcast on free-to-air TV after the IOC (International Olympic Committee) seeks to maximise revenue in the new digital age.

On Friday, president of the aforementioned sports mob Jacques Rogges (left) will consider bids for the Sochi Winter Games of 2014 and the Rio summer games of 2016.

The UK broadcasting rights, which are currently held by the BBC are protected by listed-events legislation that guarantees it free-to-air coverage (Wimbledon, the FA Cup Final and the Grand National are other examples of such events) but the IOC have explained that companies like Sky or BT (who recently swooped to secure Premier League rights) could in expectation of the legislation being changed during a government review next year.

“Everything is possible,” Rogge told the Guardian. “We just launched a tender, because this is an obligation by the EU. It is open to everyone – to public companies, private companies, free-to-air, satellite, mobile, even the possibility to sell them to an agent company that buys the rights and sells them on. The deadline is 29 June and then we will enter into negotiations with different companies.”

“We sold the rights to Sky Italy but for the summer Games it has an obligation to run 200 hours free-to-air and for the Winter Games 100 hours. They did not have the free-to-air capacity but they teamed up with Rai, who will take care of the 200 hours. We have many countries where that is the case. In many countries in Europe there is a complementarity between pay television and public television.”

Any future deal could see the Beeb – which will show over 2,500 hours of coverage for London 2012 – sharing the Olympics coverage (in a similar way to the new Formula One deal).

In total, £2.5bn was raised from TV rights deals for the 2010 and 2012 Games, a significant increase on the £1.7bn raised from the previous four years.

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