IOC rejects EBU’s bid for rights to Olympic Games 2014 & 2016
December 2nd, 2008

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has rejected the European Broadcasting Union’s (EBU) bid for the European broadcast rights for the Olympic Games 2014-2016.

“We very much regret the decision of the IOC. We have worked with the IOC since 1956 to deliver the Olympic Games to the broadest possible audience, and ensured maximum exposure of the Olympic Games, and also Olympic Sports between the Games”, said EBU President Fritz Pleitgen (ARD, Germany). “We note that there are different views about the future monetary broadcast value of the Games. EBU Members were surprised by the high financial expectations of the IOC. We regret that, it seems, little account is taken of the additional high level of investment by the EBU in rights for, and the production and quality editorial coverage of, World-, European- and National Championships, across many Olympic Sports .”

EBU President-elect, Jean-Paul Philippot (RTBF, Belgium), added: “The worldwide financial crisis will not stop at the doorstep of free-to air television; it will also have an impact on the value of broadcast rights for sports events. The EBU’s offer reflected the maximum price public service broadcasters could pay for the rights, our philosophy of investing in Olympic sports throughout the Olympiad (the four years between the summer Games), and the value of offering Olympic sports free of charge to all citizens”.

“We are sorry that we did not manage to convince the IOC of the importance of our global support of Olympic sport. We will now carefully analyse the consequences of the IOC decision on our sports-rights acquisition policy”, concluded Mr Philippot.

The decision does not affect the Olympic Games in 2010 & 2012, for which the EBU has already acquired the rights.

Note: Presumably the IOC will now try to sell the rights on a country-by-country basis, in an effort to make more money. But in the current economic climate, the most likely successful bidders will be the subscription and pay-per-view companies, who may well make a profit out of selling extra subscriptions and advertising around Olympic events. But millions of Europeans could miss out altogether on the world’s greatest sporting festival. In my view, the Olympic movement has lost its soul.