Still no deal on free French language coverage of 2010 Games, organizers say

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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VANCOUVER - A deal still hasn't been hammered out to ensure French language broadcast programming will be available for free during the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, organizers acknowledged Friday.
Though broadcast agreements are made between the International Olympic Committee and networks - not the host cities - the head of Vancouver's organizing committee said they're still trying to help find a solution to the problem.
"We are working with CTV to try to find a solution to make sure Canadians can watch the Olympic Games or Paralympic Games for that matter in French or English," said John Furlong, the chief executive officer of the organizing committee, known as VANOC.
"It's a complex process, we don't think it involves huge numbers of people but nevertheless, it's important and it's really important in Canada."
CTV won the rights to broadcast the Games in Canada, but it's programming won't be available in French on what is known as the free "over the air" system in all parts of the country.
"We don't have any indication at this moment that CTV will fail on their engagement," said Jacques Gauthier, a member of VANOC's board of directors who represents the federal government.
"We continue to hear and we continue to be aware of the situation. We maintain discussions with CTV. We're still confident that the French coverage will be done as expected and contracted with the IOC."
Furlong said he wasn't sure what a solution would look like.
"There are some who feel it's a technical matter, there are some who feel it's more of collaboration and getting new partners involved. It's not that clear yet," he said.
The update on the status of the French-language coverage was provided after the committee's regular board meeting on Wednesday.
"We're entering into an exciting time," said Jack Poole, the board chairman.
"Because we're next, it's an important time for VANOC to maintain rigorous attention to the business plan, to strengthen its public engagement activities, which they're actively doing."
Tickets for the 2010 Winter Games will be on sale earlier than planned but details about the torch relay may come later, organizers said at a news conference after the meeting.
The first phase of ticket sales will now begin on Oct. 3, eight days ahead of schedule.
"It's coming together a bit earlier than we thought," said Dave Cobb, the vice-president of revenue, marketing and communications for the Games.
Tickets will be done by lottery, and moving ahead the date for sales to begin gives the public more time to get their forms in before the first phase of sales ends in November, Cobb said.
A major part of public engagement in the Games across the country will come from the torch relay, details of which may now not be released until early in 2009.
Up until Wednesday, officials had always promised the announcement on the route, and how torch bearers will be selected was coming this fall.
"We are fairly well advanced in our planning but we have to pick the right time for the program itself, and as we look towards the end of the year and into the early part of next year, the volume of activity and announcements are extraordinary," said Furlong.
"We are looking at our overall program and trying to plot where the key events belong that are going to benefit us the most."
In addition to the beginning of ticket sales, also coming this fall is the launch of what organizers call the "look" of the Games - the graphics and signage that will be used across Vancouver and Whistler, as well as in the venues themselves.

Organizations: CTV, International Olympic Committee, Olympic Games

Geographic location: VANCOUVER, Canada, Whistler

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