The three major U.S. television networks submitted their formal bids for exclusive coverage of the 1988 Summer Olympics today amid continuing acrimony over the schedule for the final events in Seoul, which sources said could delay awarding of a contract.
Six-person teams from CBS, ABC and NBC, in that order after the drawing of lots, made presentations to a three-man International Olympic Committee panel at a hotel here.
IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch scheduled a news conference for Friday to announce the network that had won the contract, but IOC spokesperson Michelle Verdier said, "There might still be a decision to hold things over for another month to try to work something out" on the scheduling.
The contract for U.S. TV rights could bring as much as $700 million to the IOC and to the Seoul organizing committee. But the networks have warned that if the finals are staged at their traditional time, in early afternoon, this could bring the price down sharply -- perhaps to as little as $400 million.
Seoul is 17 hours ahead of U.S. East Coast time and the networks, in the original bargaining, had asked that certain finals be staged very early in the morning so they could be shown during prime time in the United States.
The various sports federations prefer the early afternoon start.
Each network's delegation today was led by the head of its sports division -- ABC by Roone Arledge, NBC by Arthur Watson and CBS by Neal Pilson.
Arledge, who already has signed a deal for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary for $309 million, said "We went so high for Calgary, we don't feel we have to be in a position where we say we have to have this," he told reporters. "If the others feel they have to have it, maybe they'll top our bid. Who knows?"