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Sports leaders assess growing impact of Internet

A Norwegian fan catches the latest sports news on the Internet: sports bosses worry TV is losing out


Leading figures of international business, sport and the Internet began a two-day meeting on Monday in the Swiss city of Lausanne to assess the relationship between the "new media" and sport.

The International Olympic Committee, which organised the meeting, said the 600 people taking part in the conference would "discuss their vision for the future of the business of sport and how you can take advantage of the new media revolution".

Officials will also be debating the impact of increasingly popular online sports sites.

A Swiss newspaper, "Le Temps" said on Monday the new media could not only "overturn the way in which sport is viewed, but also the economic links between sport organisers and television".

On the eve of the meeting, the IOC's marketing head, Dick Pound, said he did not "expect a big revenue stream in the short run through the Internet".

Sports leaders fear the growing interest in Internet sports services could undermine the value of the television contracts.

The IOC, for example, has secured the future of the Olympics by selling the television rights in a series of multi-million dollar deals.

One of the main talking points in Lausanne is expected to be the issue of rights. Pound made it clear the IOC would not be selling separate Internet rights, and would continue contracts with television partners.

The IOC was paid $705 million (SFr1.237 billion) by a United States television network for exclusive coverage of this year's Sydney Olympics. The same company will pay nearly $900 million for the TV rights to the next games in 2004.

swissinfo with agencies

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