ABC near agreement to do Goodwill Games in Russia

September 27, 1990|By Phil Hersh | Phil Hersh,Chicago Tribune

Despite substantial losses and apparently widespread disinterest in the United States, the board of Turner Broadcasting System voted unanimously yesterday for the continuation of the Goodwill Games.

The 1994 Goodwill Games will take place in Leningrad and Moscow, and the 1998 Games in a U.S. city to be chosen in 1992.

Jack Kelly, who became Goodwill Games president immediately after the 1990 Games in Seattle, said an impending agreement with ABC-TV and the fact Goodwill III will be in the Soviet Union should help both the bottom line and the ratings.

Turner announced losses of $26 million for the inaugural 1986 Goodwill Games in Moscow and $44 million for Seattle.

The ABC deal, which has yet to be completed, would call for the broadcast network to do 15 to 18 hours of afternoon telecasts on the Games' three weekends. TBS, the Games' owner and previously exclusive network, will do 80 to 90 hours of cable telecasts, including all the prime time.

"Being on a broadcast network should increase public awareness," Kelly said. "Being in the Soviet Union should reduce costs in areas that are billed to the private sector in the U.S. but the public sector there.

"We have put together a business plan that does not show substantial deficits for the future."

Kelly would not reveal how much of the projected $80 million 1994 budget would be covered by ABC. He said ratings projections will be based on the 1990 performance, a 2.5 average, rather than the 5 promised advertisers.

Kelly said viewership should also be improved by TBS' decision not to charge cable operators the $1-per-subscriber for Goodwill telecasts as it did this year. Some cable operators chose not to air the Goodwill Games rather than pay that fee and pass it on to subscribers.

The 1994 Games will not be scaled back from the 1990 version, widely criticized as a a 10-day event dragged over 17 days.

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