European Broadcasting Union reconsiders Olympic contracts

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BRUSSELS -- The European Broadcasting Union is thinking twice about whether to sign up to the next three Olympic Games through to 2008, following the fiasco at Atlanta this month.

Officials deny that EBU has demanded back some of the $250 million it paid the organizers of the Atlanta Olympics because of the long list of logistical and technical errors that have occurred since the Games got started earlier this month.

But a source at the Geneva-based organization which has exclusive rights to all TV coverage of the Games says the problems may affect future contracts.

"We have only signed a letter of intent (to film the next three Games) and not a contract yet," he points out. "We learn something new from each sports event we cover. What has happened at Atlanta will of course have a bearing on our future ties with the Olympic Games."

Wilfried Verlinde, head of sports programming at the EBU, does not rule out a demand for financial compensation in the future. "All we have done is write a letter of complaint to the Atlanta organizing committee," he says. "We have not demanded our money back, yet".

In its letter, the EBU highlights three problems that must be addressed: 1) information services - the IBM systems have failed 2) access - cameramen have been prevented from getting to their positions in time for events by security officers 3) transport - everyone, athletes included, suffers from the bad traffic in Atlanta.

Copyright July 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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