The official digital broadcaster for the Beijing Olympics, BOB or the Beijing Olympic Broadcasting Co., Ltd has had to have it declared publicly that all Olympic venue feeds will be "live" into the International Broadcast Center and the television rights holders from around the world.
Yes, it is official - “It will be live. It won't be delayed by several seconds,” said Wang Wei, Executive Vice President and Secretary-General of the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG).
It would never be a consideration for any other Olympic hosting country, but this is China after all. The Chinese Government uses as a matter of course, a several seconds time delay mechanism for live network broadcasts, a panic button, to stop unauthorised break ins to their state run transmissions.
This all came out at the gathering in Beijing radio and TV broadcasters August 9-11 who were in town for the annual countdown broadcaster pep talk as to progress in readying for the Beijing 2008 Summer Games, now just two years away.
At the broadcast rights holders briefing, the Beijing Olympic Broadcasting Co., Ltd (BOB)covered: broadcasting production plans, the International Broadcast Centre and laid out what other services to broadcasters were being provided: accommodation, accreditation, marketing, technology and transport arrangements.
Importantly, Digital broadcasters were also told that they could bring their radio and TV equipment into the country on temporary importation, without any levying of any customs or other duties. This includes vehicles. (Detailed list at end of this item).
Very generously, the BOCOG said that Chinese Olympic participants could give press interviews but only by 'prior arrangement' or words to that effect.
The official announcements from Beijing are sounding good. Can they match the faciltation of the media and broadcasters at the Athens 2004 Summer Games?
China's relevant authorities are formulating a regulation to facilitate news coverage by foreign journalists during the 2008 Olympic Games, BOCOG President, Liu Qi told visiting broadcasters at the BOCOG meeting. He said China was abiding by its committment made in the 2005 world broadcasters meeting to render quality convenient services.
The 'political' head - Jiang Xiaoyu, BOCOG's executive vice president and BOB chairman, said the meeting with broadcasters was the 'most important step so far' for broadcasting the Beijing Games.
BOB's chief executive, Manolo Romero (who also headed the ATHOG official broadcaster in Athens 2004), said "the 2006 World Broadcaster Meeting provides a good opportunity for us to meet with many of the rights-holders who plan to be in Beijing in 2008."
It is the turn of the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union members and South American OTI rights holding broadcasters who are Beijing August 14 and 15, and finally a briefing for European Broadcasting Union member broadcasters from August 17-19.
[The official statistics from BOCOG is that some 16,000 broadcaster staff from more than 200 broadcasting organizations will cover the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, starting with the Opening Ceremony on August 8 and finishing with the Closing Ceremony on 24 August 2008. Every event will be in high definition television (HDTV). China has yet to announce which digital terrestrial broadcast standard it will adopt.]
Post Script for broadcasters, journalists and vendors alike with the list of new guidelines issued this month from Beijing 2008 Games:
The main government regulation being formulated will contain the following arrangements: foreign journalists holding Olympic identity and accreditation cards will be entitled to visa exemption within the validity of the cards, and multi-entries into the People's Republic of China with identity and accreditation cards and valid passports (or other travel documents); the visa application procedures for them will be simplified. In accordance with the regulation, reasonable amount of equipment that foreign journalists bring into China for their mission will be allowed to enter as temporary imports with tax exemption and installation and use of radio equipment will be allowed in conformity with the Chinese Law. In addition, the regulation will define relevant policies on foreign media coverage of the Games in China and their employment of Chinese citizens to assist in their coverage. The regulation will be released and take effect in 2007 after going through legislative procedures. BOCOG will also formulate "Beijing Olympic Games Foreign Media Service Guide", which will clarify the policies and procedures for foreign media's coverage of the Games in China as well as provide guiding information for them.
Liu Qi pointed out that the Chinese government authorities are making efforts to amend relevant laws, formulate special policies and simplify administrative approval procedures to guarantee good working conditions for foreign journalists during Games-time. These measures include:
-Equipment that foreign media organizations bring into China for broadcasting and covering the sports competitions will be allowed to enter as temporary imports with tax exemption;
-Temporary entry permission will be given to motor vehicles from overseas for covering the Games. Foreign journalists may apply for temporary driving permits;
-Foreign accredited media may make applications through BOCOG for filming cultural relics and BOCOG will acquire permission for them from the State Administration of Cultural Relics in accordance with the required procedures;
-Foreign journalists and media organizations may apply to the Press Commission of the Chinese Olympic Committee for interviews with Chinese athletes and the Commission will arrange the interviews for them and provide convenience;
-Accredited foreign media organizations that wish to conduct aerial **filming of the Olympic competitions may send applications and detailed plans to BOCOG, who will submit the requests to relevant government authorities for approval in accordance with the required procedures;
-During the Beijing Olympic Games, foreign journalists may rent housing for accommodation or offices through legal real-estate agencies.
**Filming but not live?