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(LEAD) Cable channel JTBC awarded Olympic broadcast rights in Korea

All Headlines 18:17 June 04, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS details, reaction in last 5 paras)
By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, June 4 (Yonhap) -- The cable channel JTBC has been awarded the exclusive broadcast rights on the Korean Peninsula for four Winter and Summer Olympic Games from 2026 to 2032.

Following its competitive tender, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made the announcement on Tuesday at a signing ceremony between IOC President Thomas Bach and JTBC President Hong Jeong-do at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.

In this photo captured from the International Olympic Committee's website on June 4, 2019, Thomas Bach (R), president of the IOC, and Hong Jeong-do, president of the South Korean cable station JTBC, pose with an agreement awarding JTBC with the exclusive Olympic broadcast rights in South Korea from 2026 to 2032 during a ceremony at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland. (Yonhap)

JTBC, the broadcasting arm of the vernacular daily JoongAng Ilbo, will have rights to the 2026 Winter Olympics, 2028 Summer Olympics, 2030 Winter Olympics and 2032 Summer Olympics. The 2028 Summer Games will take place in Los Angeles, and host cities for the three other competitions have not been determined.

JTBC has acquired the rights across all media platforms, and the IOC added that its deal with JTBC includes guarantees that at least 200 hours of Summer Olympics and 100 hours of Winter Olympics coverage will be broadcast on national coverage television channels.

JTBC will also work with the IOC and the Olympic Channel on a year-round basis "to engage with future generations and promote sport and the Olympic values on digital platforms," the IOC said.

IOC President Thomas Bach said there was "unprecedented interest" from South Korean media in broadcast rights for the Olympics following the 2018 Winter Olympics in the South Korean resort town of PyeongChang.

"JTBC provided an innovative broadcast plan, and demonstrated a clear passion for the Olympic values and a commitment to promoting the Olympic Games across the Korean Peninsula," Bach said.

Hong said JTBC will look to enhance its current Olympic coverage and become relevant to the youth audience.

"We aim to ensure the widest possible audience and extensively broaden coverage for all sports," Hong said in a statement released by the IOC. "We fully share the IOC's desire to build direct and ongoing relationships with fans in local markets."

The deal also includes all Youth Olympic Games during the 2026-2032 period.

South Korea and North Korea have agreed to push for co-hosting of the 2032 Summer Olympics, with Germany, Australia, India and Indonesia having also shown interest.

SBS, one of three major terrestrial networks in South Korea, has the Olympic broadcasting rights from 2018 to 2024.

As a subscription-based broadcaster, JTBC is a surprise winner over the consortium of free-to-air networks -- SBS, MBC and KBS, also known as the "Korea Pool" -- that has long owned Olympic broadcast rights in the country.

In late May, SportBusiness Media reported that the Korea Pool's rights fee offer apparently fell below what the IOC had been hoping for.

The Korean Broadcasters Association (KBA), which mostly represents interests of the big three networks, balked at the IOC's announcement, saying it will only cater to paying viewers and will result in "a reckless drain of national wealth" by JTBC.

"People who have chosen to watch free-to-air channels will be excluded from Olympic coverage, and only the subscribers will be able to follow the competitions," the KBA said in a statement. "This runs directly counter to the purpose of adopting universal rights to watch."

The KBA also called on the IOC to withdraw its decision, pointing out that JTBC has no prior experience in Olympic broadcasting and that the IOC only awarded the rights to the highest bidder without taking into account the current state of affairs in the local broadcasting industry.

(LEAD) Cable channel JTBC awarded Olympic broadcast rights in Korea - 2

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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