U.S. television networks pay too much for Olympic broadcast rights and are forced to ply viewers with hours upon hours of commercials, according to a Brookings Institution study titled, ``Fool's Gold: How America Pays to Lose in the Olympics.''
``In sum, the funding setup for the Olympics is a travesty,'' writes Dr. Robert Z. Lawrence, the Brookings senior economist who authored the study with assistant Jeffrey D. Pellegrom.
ABC paid $309 million in 1988 for the U.S. rights to the Winter Games in Calgary, Alberta - 95.1 percent of the money paid for worldwide TV rights.
How much did, say, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe combined pay?
Try $1.2 million.
The Soviet Union and Eastern Europe pay so little that their share of the U.S. network money, which is divvied up by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), may actually subsidize their athletes, the study said. …