London looks to IOC for TV cash boost

The £1 billion VAT “black hole” in the planning for the London 2012 Olympics might yet be overcome by extra cash from a record-breaking $3.8 billion deal that the International Olympic Committee has signed with international television broadcasters.

John Furlong, the chief executive of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games organising committee – Vanoc – has confirmed to the Vancouver Sun that his organisation will be going cap iin hand to Lausanne seeking a bigger share of television revenues from the international Olympic chiefs.

And Sir Craig Reedie, an IOC member and a member of LOCOG, says that London will be watching Vanoc’s progress very carefully.

“We are aware, as a board, that the IOC is doing extremely well in broadcast rights,” Sir Craig, the former chairman of the British Olympic Association (pictured left), said.

Sir Craig said he felt it likely that London would be sending a message to the IOC saying,

“‘Congratulations, you have done extremely well in your television negotiations, but do you not think the formula you have submitted to us now is slightly unrealistic, and that we should share in some of your largesse?'”

The IOC plans to takeover broadcast responsibilities from 2010, when it will effectively assume the role of “host broadcaster”, producing much of the coverage through its Olympic Broadcast Service. The IOC traditionally offered 49 per cent of television revenues to the Games organisers, split two-thirds to the Summer Olympics and one-third to the Winter Games within each Olympiad cycle.

The IOC wants to give Vancouver and London fixed amounts based on what it is distributing to to Turin and Beijing 2008 organisers, plus an llowance for inflation. The figures have not yet been made public.

Olympic TV revenues 30% up

Since Vancouver won the bid to stage the 2010 Winter Olympics, its organisation has been squeezed by the rise in the value of the Canadian dollar and over-budget increases in construction costs. London’s budgets have been hit by the revelation that the organisers may need to find an additional £1 billion in VAT on top of its original £2.4 billion budget.

In the meantime, the IOC has been busy negotiating lucrative contracts with broadcasters, signing major contracts in the United States, Canada, Europe (excluding Italy), Korea and in the Middle East for a total of about US$3.8 billion – up by about 30 per cent on the previous Olympic cycle.

Giselle Davies, the IOC’s director of communications, told the Vancouver Sun that it will negotiate greater revenue-sharing on an as-needed basis. “Future organising committees are fully aware that the IOC gives a substantial contribution to their operating budgets,” she said. “The object of all partners is to ensure that the Olympic Games are successful in all regards.”

Lemley snubs London Assembly

Jack Lemley, who last month walked away from his job as chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority after just seven months in office, has refused to attend a session of the London Assembly to explain his resignation and subsequent public comments.

Lemley, 71, was interviewed by The Idaho Statesman after his resignation and said that he had quit because he feared that political infighting would delay work and ruin his reputation.

“Any questions which you or your members may have regarding the ODA are best put to the ODA as I have no access to the relevant information,” Lemley wrote in a letter to London Assembly chairman Brian Coleman. “I have become heavily engaged in new projects and could not at this point return to the UK nor be available to speak via video.”

In Lemley’s absence, the 25-member Assembly will watch a replay of an American television interview given by Lemley.

ODA chief executive David Higgins and Lemley’s temporary replacement as chairman, Roy McNulty, will attend tomorrow’s meeting at City Hall.

BOA launches 2008 Beijing Games media accreditation process – click here to find out more

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