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Posted on October 2, 2012
Channel 4 may bid for the television rights to the 2016 Paralympics, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro. Photograph: Felipe Dana/AP
The Channel 4 chief executive, David Abraham, is preparing a bid for the TV rights to the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Paralympics, but could be derailed by a BBC plan to snatch back the rights.
Abraham said he is hopeful of retaining Clare Balding – who was highly praised for her presenting work during the London Olympic and Paralympic Games – as anchor if Channel 4 can win the upcoming bid for the UK TV rights to the Rio 2016 event.
“Clare is the face of our racing, so you know she is going to be working for us [at that time],” he said. “Everything is in place but we are four years out, no one gets a contract for that long. I am very positive about re-assembling the team, there was a lot of good chemistry.”
Channel 4’s coverage of the London Paralympics attracted record viewing figures, with the International Paralympic Committee hailing the event as exceeding its “wildest dreams”.
The success has spurred Channel 4 to bid for the UK TV rights to the Rio Paralympics in 2016.
“International TV rights are managed by the IPC and we obviously have a very good relationship with them,” Abraham said. “We are talking to them about how we plan Rio, and how we go about doing that.”
However, the BBC is thought to be planning to snatch back the TV rights to the Paralympics, which it lost when Channel 4 tabled a record bid in 2010.
“We are not getting distracted by that,” said Abraham. “We are very confident we have great ideas and a great relationship [with the IPC]. We have great presenters, everything is in place.”
The viewing boost of a home Paralympics means it is unlikely that Rio will deliver more record-breaking audiences.
However, Abraham said that Team GB athletes such as sprinter Jonnie Peacock, wheelchair athlete David Weir and swimmer Ellie Simmonds are now household names and likely to be a big draw in 2016.
“Rio is an amazing brand and the time difference is not as challenging as Beijing [in 2008],” he said.
He added that Channel 4 is not letting its commitment slip after the glow of the London event dies down, recently announcing a further £250,000 investment to search for more disabled talent to host programmes and subjects to cover beyond the world of sport.
In each Olympic/Paralympic cycle, the local organising committee for the event has the power to decide how it wants to sell the domestic TV rights.
The London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games took the unprecedented step of asking other UK public service broadcasters – Channel 4, ITV and Channel 5 – to submit tenders to host Paralympic coverage as well as the BBC.
The BBC’s bid is thought to have been well short of the £8m to £9m tabled by Channel 4.
“We demonstrated quite well in this instance the degree to which two separate organisations [Channel 4 and the BBC] can focus resources to deliver two great events,” said Abraham.
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