BT to base new sports TV unit in London Olympic Park

LONDON Thu Nov 29, 2012 6:50pm GMT

BT CEO Ian Livingston attends a session at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 27, 2011. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

BT CEO Ian Livingston attends a session at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 27, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Christian Hartmann

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LONDON (Reuters) - BT will base its new sports television unit in the Olympic Park, boosting efforts to ensure that the Games provide lasting economic benefits to what was a rundown part of east London.

The telecoms company has invested heavily on sports rights in recent months to help to drive take-up of its pay television arm, BT Vision. It will screen English Premier League football and Premiership rugby from the 2013/14 season.

BT is taking a 10-year lease on space that housed broadcasters from around the globe during the Olympics this year. It will build three TV studios, 20 edit suites and a control centre. It plans to start work at the building in February to prepare for the launch of BT Sport in summer 2013.

"The Olympic Park will be an iconic sporting backdrop for BT Sport," BT Chief Executive Ian Livingston said in a statement.

BT, which began life as the state telecoms monopoly, was a sponsor of the London 2012 Olympics.

ICITY, a joint venture between real estate investor Delancey and data centre operator Infinity SDC, has the task of turning the Olympic broadcast and adjacent press centre into a permanent hub for technology companies. BT is its first major tenant.

The move will have to be rubber-stamped at a board meeting next week of the London Legacy Development Corporation, the public body that is now in charge of the Olympic site.

That meeting could also resolve who will become the main tenant of the Olympic Stadium, centrepiece of the park. Premier League soccer club West Ham United are considered by many observers as favourites to move in after a process mired in legal wrangling.

(Writing by Keith Weir; Editing by David Goodman)

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