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  • World Broadcasters Meeting has Bird's Nest and Birds' Eye View


    (ATR) The 2007 World Broadcaster Meeting in Beijing this week is giving 300 delegates from around the world a chance to listen and plan, with a little gawking and worrying thrown in.

    The gawking has come at the Beijing National Stadium, nicknamed The Bird's Nest, where athletics events and the opening and closing ceremonies will take place.
    Alex Gilady has served on three consecutive summer Games coordination commissions, beginning with Athens. (ATR)  

    "It's starting to look like a breathtaking fantasy," Alex Gilady, the IOC member from Israel, tells Around the Rings.

    "Every broadcaster that stepped into this stadium was saying only one word: 'Wow.' When you are standing within it, you suddenly see and feel the power it transmits. The metal is coming alive."

    Now it's up to the producers, directors and cameramen to transmit that same feeling of awe to the viewers at home.

    However, a delay in the construction of the International Broadcast Center is a cause for concern.

    "I know that some broadcasters start to worry if they will be able to enter in March," says Gilady, who has been a member of the IOC Radio and Television Commission since 1984 and is also on the coordination commissions for Beijing and London.

    Gilady expected the IBC construction delay to come up Wednesday or Thursday in briefings by the Beijing Olympic Broadcasting Co., the host broadcaster responsible for producing the television and radio signals of the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games.

    Gilady said the reason behind the delay is that a private company is building the IBC, which will have a future use as an exhibition center.

    "Some of the modifications are causing a slight delay," he says. "We are hoping to tackle it."

    One way to solve the problem would be to divide the center into workable areas before everything is completed.

    "It's a little bit vague what is the time frame for the delay," Gilady said, "but they have to hurry in the construction of the IBC."

    At least broadcasters no longer have to worry about the birds’ eye view. Gilady was pleased to discover this week that broadcasters will be allowed to use helicopters in coverage of the marathon, race walks and cycling road race.

    "In China, it was never, ever possible to take helicopter pictures," Gilady says. "No private helicopters were allowed. Now in order to fulfill our needs and prepare for the races, the Chinese military is cooperating with BOB and giving us all the helicopters we need in order to bring the greatest pictures possible."

    Gilady added that "China is definitely fulfilling its obligation" to let broadcasters do their jobs.

    "That's what we were promised in Moscow [at the 2001 IOC Session when Beijing won the right to host the Games] and we had no doubt our Chinese friends would stand up to their word."

    Earlier this year, Chinese authorities removed restrictions on press movements by announcing that broadcasters will be allowed to interview anyone they want as long as the person interviewed consents.

    At the World Broadcaster Meeting, which started Sept. 23 and runs through Sept. 30, BOCOG is also giving presentations on transportation, accommodation, technology, accreditation, marketing, rate cards and procedures about filming in China. About 16,000 broadcasters from more than 200 organizations will cover the Beijing Games.

    Camera positions have yet to be discussed.

    "If someone is unhappy, I will know about it on Thursday,” Gilady says.

    The 2008 Olympics will have two broadcasting firsts. This will be the first Olympics in which everything will be broadcast from the venues in high definition and the first with two organizations devoted entirely to "new media."
    In June, the IOC Television and Marketing Services Department stepped up its new media efforts by adding a new officer for Digital Media Business Development and signing the Taipei Internet and cellular contract. (Getty Images)  

    "Only maybe 20-25 percent of the TV sets at home are either high definition or 16:9 wide screen," Gilady says, "which means that we will televise in the highest technical standard available, but many people around the world will see it in the format of 4:3 television sets."
    For those people who have the upgraded sets, he said, "they will have this great advantage."

    The other distinction for the Beijing Games is that two companies from Taipei and Hong Kong will represent "new media," providing broadcasting content strictly for Internet and cellular access.

    "We are eager to see how they will do," Gilady said.

    Gilady, who is also NBC senior vice president for global operations, says the U.S. network has about 10 people at the meeting, led by Gary Zenkel, president, NBC Olympics.

    Because the European Broadcasting Union and Latin American Broadcasting Union are so large, their tours were separate from those given to organizations from the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia and other countries.

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