SBS announced last week that it had pulled out as broadcaster for the Gay Games, citing a lack of planning by Games organisers.

Craig Collie, head of local production at SBS, told the Star that there was no antagonism between SBS and the Games, claiming the deal was pulled because Sydney 2002 was unable to present a production budget for the planned broadcast.

Gay Games were to produce the show, with SBS having the contract for exclusive free-to-air TV broadcast rights. Negotiations began in November 2001 and Collie claimed that a contract had been awaiting sign-off since July.

Lange’s version differs. It’s a bit difficult to say it was one reason [why the deal was pulled]. We were all a little taken by surprise with the deadline that ultimately SBS gave us. They gave us a deadline the day of the deadline. I think the budget was an issue, the international host was an issue, Lange said.

At the end it’s one of those issues where broadcasters have different timelines, different requirements. Lots of things. I don’t want to go into too much detail.

Collie emphasised that the contract floundered on small bits and pieces and that some of the things that were making up the deal changed. These things are understood to include the lack of a signed host for the show, the venue for the live-to-air show and the number of overseas networks signed on to buy the show.

Collie said that negotiations finally foundered because Gay Games were unable to present a budget which showed that a program of sufficient quality could be produced under the terms as specified in the draft contract.

That’s not right. The deal we had on the table was sufficient for them to run the program. It was certainly the case that our timing seemed to be different to theirs and we weren’t aware of the deadline they put to us. Whilst we sent a full budget and a signed contract to them, they’re not prepared to revisit their decision, Lange said.

The Sydney 2002 co-chairs revealed that negotiations are now under way to secure an on-line broadcast deal, and a deal with a DVD and video distributor.

Lange was defiant. [The failure of the SBS deal was] disappointing more than a setback. Our view is that it would be great to get a broadcast happening, but I think we all recognise that it’s not our core business, she said.

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