NBC announced agreement with the Soviet Union yesterday for exclusive rights to televise the 1980 Olympic Games from Moscow.
The network would not reveal details of the agreement, particularly how much it will pay the Russians, but it could be as much as $100 million.
An NBC spokesman in New York did say that the agreement, to be signed shortly, is between NBC and the Soviet Organizing Committee, not between NBC and Soviet-American Trade (SATRA), a New York-based firm that had previously announced its own "provisional" deal with the Soviets for exclusive television rights to the Olympics.
"SATRA was not involved," the NCB spokesman said. No spokesmen for SATRA could be reached for comment. NBC will make public further details when its negotiating team - led by NBC-TV President Robert T. Howard - returns from Moscow this week.
An NBC statement praised the "friendly atmosphere" in which negotiations took place, but in fact the tussle over rights and money between the Soviets and all three U.S. television networks has amounted to a continuing international wrestling match.
Last month ABC, CBS and NBC representatives walked out of negotiations in a huff, calling the Soviet terms unreasonable. Only two weeks ago the NBC network president and chief executive officer, Herbert Schlosser, declared, "I don't think we should carry the Olympics at any price." Last week, CBS bowed out, citing "imponderables" that forced its "unequivocal withdrawal."
The asking price reportedly was $100 million, including $50 million in television equipment to be left in the Soviet Union after the games end.
The Soviets also reportedly demanded that more than half of its $100 million be paid by the end of 1978 - nearly two years before the games themselves.
By contrast, ABC, which has broadcast seven Olympic Games, paid $25 million to televise the Montreal Olympics last summer.
When it appeared that the SATRA deal, announced Dec. 22, was not final after all, the three networks began negotiating again, at one point proposing that all three participate in a "pool" to share the costs. CBS, which had opposed the pool idea from the start and had been especially eager to snare the Olympics exclusively, scotched that plan when it walked out last week.
The plan was subject to approval by the Justice Department, which was tentatively to have decided this week whether a pool arrangement would violate anti-monopoly laws. That is now a dead issue.
The NBC-Soviet contract is expected to be signed in Moscow today or Tuesday. No plans for the coverage itself have been made final yet, but spokesman did say the games would be produced by the network's entertainment division, not NBC News. NBC's only previous experience with Olympics coverage was the 1972 winter games from Sapporo, Japan.