TV group demands a refund

OLYMPICS
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A consortium of 88 European broadcasters has added to the chorus of complaints about the Olympics, saying it wanted back some of the $250m (pounds 165m) it paid for rights to the Games.

The European Broadcasting Union said in a letter yesterday to Olympic officials and the Games organisers, Acog, that working conditions were so bad that its members could not deliver acceptable programmes to viewers and listeners.

"Acog and the International Olympic Committee simply is not delivering what we are paying for. And the answer that you are 'working on it' does not give much consolation two days after the Games have started," the EBU said in the letter. "You must have been working on it for a number of years now, and if you go on working in the same way for only two weeks more, the Games will be over."

The EBU, in the letter signed by its head of operations group Jarle Hoeysaeter, said it had already made claims for a refund and "we expect there will be more of the same".

Any refunds to broadcasters would be a serious blow to the Atlanta organisers, whose $1.7bn (pounds 1.1bn) budget projects only a small profit.

The EBU, which includes the BBC, Germany's ZDF and Italy's RAI, is the second largest rights holder to the Games after NBC, which paid $456m for exclusive coverage. Television rights are the Olympic movement's main earner, raising worldwide at least $900m, of which Atlanta received 60 per cent.

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