Acquisition guarantees free-to-air broadcast

LONDON

The BBC has signed a deal with the Intl. Olympics Committee for exclusive U.K. rights to cover the next two summer and winter Olympic Games.

The deal will include TV, radio and digital rights to the 2014 Sochi Winter Games in Russia; the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea and the 2020 Summer Games, to be held in either Istanbul, Madrid or Tokyo

It is believed the Beeb fought off competition from BSkyB.

News Corp.’s cash-rich paybox apparently considered buying all rights and then selling off a package to the BBC or setting up a web to distribute a small amount of Olympic coverage free-to-air. This would circumvent U.K. rules that state the Olympics must be shown on a free channel.

The BBC did not reveal how much it forked out for the new Games package. It paid £60 million ($90 million) for the London Olympic rights.

Dominic Coles, BBC’s 2012 Olympics chief operating officer, who negotiated the deal, said, “It’s vital that big national and international events like the Olympic Games remain free-to-air where they can be watched by the greatest number of people.”

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