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VANOC TV deal richest in Winter Olympic history

Deal helped Olympic organizers put financial contingency in place

By Clare Ogilvie

Olympic organizers have negotiated the richest TV deal ever for a Winter Games, getting $436.7 million from the International Olympic Committee.

Negotiators from the Vancouver Organizing Committee decided months ago to ditch the formula normally used to decide on how much they get from broadcast revenues and tell the IOC what they needed to pull off the 2010 Games successfully.

While the IOC was initially apprehensive about VANOC’s out-of-the-box thinking they agreed, giving VANOC tens of millions more in funding than they would have got otherwise.

VANOC’s CEO John Furlong said Tuesday at the release of the organization’s business plan that the extra money has helped to build into the operating budget a $100 million contingency.

“I think we got a great deal,” said Furlong.

“We started out with one thing in mind, we wanted to deliver a great project and have a good contingency and rather than be preoccupied with a formula... we set out to convince the IOC that we needed to have enough revenue to stage the Games that we had mapped out.”

Originally VANOC believed they would get about $345 million in TV revenues.

The IOC negotiated a record-breaking US$3.8 billion deal with international television broadcasters for the 2010 Games and 2012 Summer Games in London last year. That’s up about 30 per cent.

The IOC plans to takeover broadcast responsibilities from 2010, when it will effectively assume the role of “host broadcaster”, producing much of the coverage through its Olympic Broadcast Service.

The IOC traditionally offered 49 per cent of television revenues to the Games organizers, split two-thirds to the Summer Olympics and one-third to the Winter Games within each Olympiad cycle.

NBC alone will pay US$820 million to cover the 2010 Olympics, while CTV/TSN will pony up US$90 million.

Television rights, according to figures released by the IOC, will generate more than $1 billion US from the 2010 Olympics.