Utah's Olympic organizers hope to sign another television contract soon - but unlike recent deals that brought record amounts for the rights to broadcast the 2002 Winter Games, this one will cost them $80 million or more.
The Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee is seeking bids for a "host broadcaster" to provide television and radio coverage as required by the International Olympic Committee for the networks that secured rights.The company selected to serve as host broadcaster will employ as many as 1,500 camera operators and other production personnel to capture every moment of competition during the 17 days of the Games.
Their work will be shown throughout Europe, Australia and the other parts of the world where television networks have obtained the rights to televise Salt Lake City's Olympics.
It's up to the host broadcaster to make sure that the rights-holders have competition footage of the Olympians from their countries, no matter where the athletes place.
That's no easy job. More than 2,000 athletes from some 90 nations are expected to be competing during the 2002 Winter Games for 75 medals in 10 different sports venues.
And there's no shortage of television networks covering the Olympics. The European Broadcasting Union, which recently purchased the rights to all Games through 2008, represents broadcasters in 49 countries, including England's BBC.Contracts are yet to be negotiated with broadcasters in more than a dozen other countries where the Games are expected to be televised, including Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Hong Kong.
NBC, the network that paid a record $545 million for the rights to broadcast the 2002 Games in the United States, will have its own cameras at the competition sites to focus on top medal contenders as well as all American athletes.
The host broadcaster contract is one of the biggest - and most important - for the Olympic Organizing Committee, said Dave John-son, senior vice president for Games.
Fulfilling their host broadcaster duties is expected to cost organizers at least 10 percent of their budget, $80 million. It's anticipated that it will cost at least $1 million to broadcast from each venue.
"It's a big part of organizing the Games. What we're doing is servicing one of our largest revenue sources," Johnson said, referring to the sale of broadcasting rights.
Olympic organizers expect to receive about 40 percent of their $800 million budget for hosting the Winter Games from broadcasters. But with recent record contracts from the United States, Europe and Australia, the percentage may be higher.
A dozen production companies around the world were invited to bid on the host broadcasting contract, including four in Utah. Johnson declined to identify the companies.
But he did say an invitation to bid was sent to Manolo Romero, who is heading up the host broadcasting operation in Atlanta for the 1996 Summer Games.
Romero was recently named to serve as the technical adviser for television on the International Olympic Committee's coordination commission for the 2002 Winter Games.
The formal request for bids was issued Jan. 29, and responses are due to the organizing committee by March 15. The contract is scheduled to be awarded on April 30.
This is the latest bid sought by the organizing committee, which has already issued requests for proposals to provide insurance and risk management services, as well as audit services.