USOC pursues Olympic cable channel despite IOC concerns

July 8, 2009

The U.S. Olympic Committee still plans to launch a cable TV channel next year despite a lingering disagreement with the International Olympic Committee over rights to Olympic trademarks and footage of sporting events.

Hours after the USOC announced a partnership Wednesday with Comcast that will pave the way for the debut of the U.S. Olympic Network, top IOC officials raised concerns, alleging the Colorado Springs-based organization jumped the gun.

Richard Carrion, an IOC executive board member from Puerto Rico, told The New York Times, "We've given the rights to NBC to be the Olympic network, and I don't think something else called the Olympic network will fly. ... We're saying we should have sat down before they did anything unilaterally."

USOC chief operating officer Norman Bellingham, touting contracts with two-thirds of the 45 national governing bodies, called NBC-run Universal Sports "something that will supplement what we're going to do. They're showcasing international sports. We're showcasing the Olympic movement."

A Congressional charter gives the USOC rights to the word "Olympic." NBC owns rights to the Olympic trials through 2012.

About Carrion's claim that the USOC needs IOC approval, Bellingham said, "Their view of what needs to be authorized is different from ours. ... It has been in the public domain for a considerable period of time. Our intentions have been pretty clear."

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