Olympic Webcast rights to remain tied up

By Rick Perera, IDG News Service |  Tech & society, Tech & society

THE OLYMPICS ARE unlikely to go live on the Internet, at least through the 2008 Games, according to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

TV broadcast rights to the Games are tied up in contracts through 2008; Internet broadcast rights cannot be separately awarded until at least then, an IOC spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Broadcasting rights are a major source of revenue for the Olympic movement. U.S. TV network NBC paid a record $705 million for U.S. broadcast rights to the 2000 Games in Sydney, and has already locked up rights through the 2008 Summer Games. TV rights for other regions of the world have also already been signed through that date.

Internet media operators complained bitterly about lack of access to the Sydney Games. The spokeswoman said officials are considering accrediting some Web journalists to cover the 2002 winter Games in Salt Lake City. But she added that it is unlikely they will be able to include live Webcasts on their sites.

Olympics officials are currently meeting at the World Conference on Sport and New Media, to discuss the future role of the Web in Olympic events. The conference continues through Wednesday in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Rick Perera is a Berlin correspondent for the IDG News Service, an InfoWorld affiliate.

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