TVB goes to IOC on Winter Games

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 December, 2009, 12:00am

TVB representatives hope to meet the International Olympic Committee's president today to lobby for the right to broadcast some of the events of the Winter Olympics.

The general manager of broadcasting for the free-to-air station, Cheong Shin-keong, said yesterday he hoped to lobby IOC president Jacques Rogge, who is in Hong Kong this weekend for the opening of the East Asian Games.

He said TVB had been trying - without luck - to get Winter Games events from i-Cable, the operator of pay-TV broadcaster Cable TV, because there would be strong viewer interest as China would have large and competitive team.

Cheong said Rule 49 of the Olympic Charter stated that the IOC must take all necessary steps to ensure there was the 'fullest coverage by the different media and the widest possible audience in the world for the Olympic Games'.

'I'm trying to find some way to make an appeal personally,' Cheong said. 'We will be trying to approach him in our own ways.'

The Winter Olympics open in Vancouver on February 12.

Cheong said TVB approached i-Cable - which also holds the broadcast rights to next year's World Cup and the 2012 London Olympics - in August, but had not received a satisfactory reply.

'We have been making approaches to the rights holder in Hong Kong, but we have been encountering difficulties,' he said.

In 2007, the South China Morning Post reported that Rogge, during a visit to Hong Kong, had said i-Cable might have to surrender its broadcast rights to the 2012 Olympics if its coverage was considered inadequate to reach an audience as large as that otherwise covered by free-to-air broadcasters.

As of June 30, Cable TV had 947,000 subscribers.

Cheong said that whether i-Cable was in line with the licence agreement it signed with the IOC was a matter between the pay-TV operator and the IOC.

Only the IOC had the right to take i-Cable to court if it did not comply with the terms.

But Cheong said TVB would take the matter up with the Broadcasting Authority if no agreement could be reached.

TVB has also yet to find out where it stands regarding rights to June's World Cup.

It has argued that according to the tender document, 22 matches including the opening and closing games have to be made available to terrestrial broadcasters.

But i-Cable says only four games will be made available.

Soccer's world governing body, Fifa, has said it was still discussing the issue with i-Cable and the terrestrial broadcasters, but Cheong said Fifa had not approached TVB about the problem.

He said i-Cable was taking a much tougher line compared with previous World Cup negotiations.

Cheong said TVB would give up its bid for coverage of the Winter Olympics if it could not seal a deal with i-Cable by the end of this month.

Meanwhile, i-Cable said it had been in communication with TVB about the rights issue for the Games and had been keeping the IOC informed of developments.