CBC snares, shares rights to five games

MONTREAL — Canuck pubcaster the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) has inked a deal with the Intl. Olympic Committee (IOC) to take Canadian rights to the next five Olympic games, including the summer games in Sydney in the year 2000, the winter games in Salt Lake City in 2002, the 2004 summer games in Athens, and the games in 2006 and 2008.

CBC doled-out $160 million for the Canadian rights to the five Olympic games and, in addition, the IOC and CBC will share gross revenues from network advertising after CBC has covered its costs.

For the first time, CBC will be sharing the broadcast of the Olympics in Canada with a private partner, Netstar, which owns the all-sports specialty channels TSN and RDS. Coverage will appear on all of CBC’s networks, including CBC Television, all-news web Newsworld, Radio-Canada, and French-lingo news outlet RDI, as well as on TSN and RDS.

The six TV networks will provide approximately 850 hours of coverage for each of the summer games and 700 hours for each of the winter games.

The IOC has already locked-up long-term deals with many international broadcasters, and execs at CBC said the timing of the Canadian deal was driven by the IOC, not by the Canadian public broadcaster.

In sharp contrast to the less-than-stellar ratings generated by CBS with the Nagano Olympics, CBC garnered strong numbers in the Great White North during the Nagano games and drummed-up record revenue with this year’s winter games, said Jim Byrd, vice president of CBC-TV. The long-term Olympics deal is a major step forward for the network, said Byrd.

“The two hottest properties in Canada are (NHL) hockey and the Olympic games, and we now have both signed to long-term deals,” said Byrd. “We’re in it because (the Olympics) are a great programming success and we can do it without affecting our parliamentary appropriation.

“It’s very important for the CBC,” Bird continued. “Number one, it tells the world that we’re still in business. It shows that after all the cuts, we’re still in our prime business. We don’t want to be seen as a niche broadcaster.”

Richard Pound, VP of the IOC, said the organization is pleased to renew its relationship with the CBC.

“In Atlanta and Nagano, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. delivered gold-medal performances in television coverage,” said Pound. “We’re delighted that the CBC will be bringing the Olympics to Canadian viewers for another decade.”

At Nagano, Canadian Heritage Minister Sheila Copps, who oversees the CBC, complained that there was too much duplication of services by the CBC and its French-language sister network Radio-Canada.

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