The International Olympic Committee today suspended talks with the three U.S. television networks and with the organizers of the 1988 Seoul Olympics and gave ABC, CBS and NBC until Sept. 23 to resubmit bids for exclusive U.S. broadcast rights to the Games. Sources said the top bid was $320 million by NBC, but that wasn't acceptable to the Korean organizers.
The Koreans, who had originally hoped to receive $700 million from U.S. TV rights, apparently came to negotiations prepared to accept $500 million. But ABC offered $250 million plus a 50 percent share of any cable rights, CBS offered $300 million and NBC $320 million, according to IOC sources.
The Korean government and the Olympic organizers then said they were prepared to come down to $450 million, but this figure was unacceptable to the networks.
Richard Pound, Canadian chairman of the three-man IOC committee that presided over the negotiations, would not comment on the figures. Nor would South Korean Sports Minister Lee Young Ho, who told a press conference that "any statement concerning a figure of $700 million has not been authorized by us."
Pound said the question of the scheduling of Olympic finals had not been an issue. "We gave the networks a schedule and told them to negotiate on the basis of that, and that's what they did," he said.
IOC sources said, however, that the relatively low figures involved in the offers were partly the result of the fact the finals in sports of interest to Americans will not be available for broadcast live in prime time. Seoul is 17 hours ahead of East Coast time and all major sports federations have scheduled finals of their events for between noon and 2 p.m., Seoul time.
This schedule, according to IOC spokesperson Michelle Verdier, is "unchangeable."
Pound denied to reporters that there had been friction between the IOC and the Koreans, although other sources said he had pressed Lee to accept a compromise. Pound said the IOC "is in no great rush to have a deal; we can hold out for several months." IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch, who did not take part in the talks, said he would like to see a deal by Christmas.
Once the networks have resubmitted bids, it will be up to the IOC to decide on having another round of bargaining here, Pound said. He said there were no plans to bring another organization, such as Cable News Network, into the talks.