The Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games has fired TWI, the television rights agency of IMG, after it failed to secure broadcast contracts from the major Commonwealth countries.
The BBC is understood to be the only broadcaster to have signed up, meaning the UK would be the only country to screen the event. The BBC is believed to have paid &£14m.
The organisers have appointed Sports Marketing & Management (SMAM), the agency behind the British Olympic Association’s sponsorship programme. SMAM has strong links in Australia, which, as the biggest market for the Games’ TV coverage, is top of the list of target countries.
Organisers of the Games have been under pressure to secure more than &£62m in TV rights, sponsorship, merchandising and ticket sales as running costs escalate. The estimated cost of staging the Games is &£208m.
Prime Minister Tony Blair has taken a personal interest, following a political storm last year, when an all-party select committee of MPs demanded financial action (MW June 3 1999). One source close to the negotiations says: “Manchester 2002 has all the makings of being the next Millennium Dome. People are already questioning how much the Government will have to pump in.”