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Wednesday, December 13, 1995 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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$2.3 Billion For Games -- NBC Secures Olympic Rights In 2004, '06, '08 In `Impressive Move'

Los Angeles Times

NBC has virtually guaranteed the Olympic movement's financial stability for the next 12 years. The network said it will pay $2.3 billion for the U.S. television rights to the Summer Games in 2004 and 2008 and the Winter Games in 2006.

The timing of yesterday's announcement was shocking in the television industry because only four months ago NBC agreed to pay the International Olympic Committee $1.25 billion for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, and the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

The agreement also is extraordinary because for the first time, a U.S. network has bought rights to the Games without knowing the sites. The IOC selects Olympic host cities seven years in advance.

That underscores NBC's apparent desire to become as identified with the Olympics' five rings as with its own peacock. With the rights to the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta previously awarded to the network, it will televise six of the next seven Games. CBS has the rights to the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

As with last summer's negotiations that resulted in rights fees of $705 million for the Sydney Games and $545 million for the Salt Lake City Games, plus an additional $10 million for each city's organizing committee, NBC initiated the talks and the IOC did not seek bids from competing networks.

David Hill, president of Fox sports, said the deal is "an absolute masterstroke for (IOC President) Juan Antonio Samaranch and the IOC. This underwrites the Olympics for the next decade because it means, despite any global economic downturn, U.S. rights money is guaranteed to host cities. This will mean record numbers of cities bidding to host the Games. For NBC, it's a bold, impressive move."

NBC will pay $793 million and $894 million for the Summer Games of 2004 and 2008, respectively, and $613 million for the Winter Games of 2006. In each case, that is a 3 percent increase over the amount the network paid for the rights to the previous Summer or Winter Games.

Copyright (c) 1995 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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