New sponsors for the Sydney 2000 Olympics

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SYDNEY -- Australia's two biggest newspaper publishers, Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd and John Fairfax Holdings Ltd, have become joint partners in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, joining 17 other international and local companies that have poured about $500m into the Games for the right to call themselves Team Millennium sponsors. The deal is unusual because Olympic sponsorships are normally given to one company representing an industry segment. Financial details remain confidential but it is believed each group will provide about $20m in money and services.

Olympic officials made it clear both newspaper groups would continue to have full editorial independence over their Olympic coverage. "This is a marketing arrangement," said New South Wales Olympics Minister Michael Knight. "We have only discussed commercial properties and neither company will receive preferential treatment for press accreditation."

Fairfax, said Knight, would be more involved with the cultural Olympiad while News would be more involved with "things like the Torch relay program".

But advertising deals involving other Team Millennium sponsors are likely outcomes, along with activities such as liftouts, advertorials and promotions offering readers free tickets to the Games.

Lachlan Murdoch, managing director of News Ltd, said he did not expect his company to make a profit on the deal: "It's more about being part of the Olympic 2000 celebrations".

Copyright March 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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