USOC chief named chair of IOC's Olympic Channel commission
LONDON (AP) The head of the U.S. Olympic Committee was given a key international position Sunday, appointed as chairman of a new panel that will oversee the launch of the IOC's Olympic television channel.
The creation of the Olympic Channel Commission and the appointment of USOC chair Larry Probst to head the 16-member panel was part of a shake-up announced by IOC President Thomas Bach in his various commissions.
Bach also announced the creation of a new Communications Commission and made changes to several of the existing bodies that guide the work of the International Olympic Committee.
The moves grow out of Bach's ''Olympic 2020 Agenda'' reform program. Since becoming president in 2013, the German has moved to reshape the IOC and put his own stamp on the organization.
The IOC said the number of women on IOC commissions was up by one-third.
''The increase of women's participation and the broader geographical representation will encourage more inclusive decision making,'' Bach said.
Bach's personal project is the Olympic channel, which received the go-ahead from the full IOC in December. The digital channel, projected to cost about $600 million over the first seven years, is scheduled to be launched next April, a few months before the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The Madrid-based channel is designed to promote Olympic sports and values year-round. It will be a mix of sports programming, Olympic archive footage, news and other material.
The IOC said Probst's panel ''will ensure that all relevant stakeholders and expertise are consulted throughout the growth and development of the Olympic Channel.''
Probst's position as head of the world's biggest Olympic committee and the USOC's ties with long-time Olympic network NBC were likely crucial to the appointment.
Also named to the commission was Kuwait's Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the powerful head of the world's 205 national Olympic committees. The panel also includes a second U.S. IOC member, Anita DeFrantz, and two Russians - Alexander Zhukov and Alisher Usmanov.
Separately, Bach announced that he will serve as chairman of the channel's 12-person board of directors. Sheikh Ahmad and another U.S. IOC member, Angela Ruggiero, are also on the board.
The IOC also announced the composition of a department called Olympic Channel Services. It will be headed by Spanish member Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., son of the late IOC president. Former NBC sports chief Dick Ebersol is among the 14 members of the group.
Dutch IOC member Camiel Eurlings, a former politician and ex-president of KLM, was appointed chairman of the Communications Commission. Among the 21 members is Randi Zuckerberg, a sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
The IOC said the panel ''will help to develop strategies to support the promotion of the Olympic values, and the IOC's vision and mission to a global audience.''
The IOC press commission, an advisory body previously chaired by Australia's Kevan Gosper and most recently by Probst, has been reformed into a ''games operations press committee.'' It will be made up mainly of media members, and no longer be headed by an IOC chairman and include several IOC members.
Among other changes:
- The Sport and Environment Commission has been renamed the Sustainability and Legacy Commission to reflect the IOC's priority on cost-cutting and long-term use of venues. It will be chaired by Prince Albert of Monaco.
- The Olympic Program Commission can base recommendations on an event-based rather than sports-based program. The chairman, Italy's Franco Carraro, can set up dedicated working groups to focus on specific events if needed.
- The Medical Commission is now called the Medical and Scientific Commission.
- The Nominations Commission, headed by Britain's Princess Anne, becomes the IOC Members Election Commission as part of ''a new proactive approach'' to the recruitment of members.
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