U.S. Olympic committee delays TV channel plans
By Karolos Grohmann
BERLIN (Reuters) - The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has delayed plans to launch a cable television network devoted to the Olympics after angering the IOC, it said Sunday.
"In order to facilitate a productive dialogue, the USOC has decided to delay further development of the network until we have resolved all issues of concern to the IOC," USOC chief Larry Probst said in a statement.
He had earlier met International Olympic Committee chief Jacques Rogge in Berlin to discuss the issue.
"I took the opportunity to stress our commitment to being good partners with the IOC and assured President Rogge that we will secure the full support and cooperation of the IOC before we move forward with the Olympic network," Probst said.
USOC had initially planned to launch its project next year with Comcast Corp agreeing to carry the channel in its cable lineup.
It would include news reports, commentary, interviews, documentaries, movies, and classic Olympic footage, the USOC had said when announcing its plans only last month.
The decision, though, triggered the ire of the IOC who said it was not consulted in this decision that involved the Games, its own prime product.
Rogge told Reuters in an interview this week the IOC had contacted USOC requesting more details of their plans but never received an answer.
The move was seen to be further hurting ties between the IOC and USOC, following a long-standing row over Games revenues and at a critical time for Chicago which is bidding to host the 2016 Olympics.
Chicago's bid chief Patrick Ryan welcomed the decision.
"We applaud Larry Probst and the USOC for making a strong statement of partnership by stating that the USOC would secure the full support and cooperation of the IOC before moving forward with the Olympic Network," Ryan said.
"It is important not only for the USOC and IOC relationship, but also for the USOC's role within the Olympic movement."
A decision on the 2016 host, for which Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo and Madrid are also bidding, will be taken by the IOC on October 2.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)