’98 Games may bring $300 mil

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — U.S. television rights for the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, are expected to be sold next month for more than $ 300 million, a top Olympic official said Tuesday.

Dick Pound, the Intl. Olympic Committee’s marketing chief, said the negotiations are expected to be held during the third week of January in New York City.

Many interested parties

Pound said CBS, NBC and ABC are all interested in acquiring the rights. CBS paid $ 295 million for rights to next year’s Winter Games, which will be broadcast Feb. 12-27 from Lillehammer, Norway.

“The fact that all three networks are interested suggests we would look for an increase over the Lillehammer fees,” Pound said. “My guess is it’s a number that will start with a 3.”

NBC acquired U.S. rights to the 1996 Summer Games from Atlanta in July for a record $ 456 million, surpassing an aggressive rival bid by ABC.

IBM feted for Atlanta

Pound also said that IBM was expected to sign on in the next few days as a worldwide sponsor of the Atlanta Games, having already committed to being one of seven national sponsors.

IBM would become the eighth company to join the IOC’s worldwide marketing program. The IOC expects to conclude negotiations with three other companies in the next few weeks.

Pound said he doesn’t expect the Canadian and Australian TV rights for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics to be signed until next month or after the Lillehammer Games. Previously, officials said they hoped to sign those deals by Christmas.

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