World Cup media arrangements on track

2010-02-04 13:58

Fears of filing rage breaking out at soccer World Cup media

facilities after cricket writers complained about facilities at some stadiums

during the recent test series have been set aside by the organisers.


About 15 000 media representatives are expected to attend the World

Cup – from television and radio broadcasters to photographers and writers.


With billions of people across the world expected to watch the

first Africa-hosted World Cup on television, and almost $3 billion in broadcast

rights at stake, South Africa’s communications infrastructure will be under

enormous pressure to distribute reports on the games itself and the salacious

details of the antics of the players, WAGS (wives and girlfriends) and

fans.


Cricket writers, frustrated by poor connections at the Newlands

stadium during the recent cricket test series, expressed concern that if their

experiences were anything to go by, there may be flared tempers in the press

boxes.


“If they can’t cope with the cricket matches, those overseas

journalists are going to freak,” said one writer, speaking on condition of

anonymity.


The writer explained that connections at the Newlands cricket

stadium were particularly poor and slow.


“The guys that come out here from Europe and places like that are

not going to be happy with the setup.”


Seminal changes in covering this event over the decades have

shifted from photographers hunched in chemical-filled darkrooms and journalists

clacking at their typewriters.


Now, an enormous media pack expects instant transmission of

enormous amounts of words and images across the globe.


Cricket SA IT manager Daryl Baruffold acknowledged that there had

been problems at the Newlands cricket games, and put it down to last minute

extra media accreditation, with the extra transmission of high resolution

pictures clogging up the system.


“We are certainly aware of the problem and we will resolve it,”

said Baruffold, adding that Cricket SA would watch and learn from the World Cup

media arrangements.


The Fifa media guidelines describe the relationship between

football and the media as “a wonderful symbiosis” and the local organising

committee believes it has its media requirements all sewn up, proven by the

success of operations at last year’s Confederations Cup.


South African Press Association soccer writer Billy Cooper, a

self-confessed Luddite, called the media centre for that event “perfect”.


“I had no problems with Confed Cup and I’m a moaner. You sat down,

you plugged in, and you worked.”


For the techies, a Cisco-based local access network (LAN) and a

wireless access network (WAN), will be used, explained LOC communications

manager Rich Mkhondo.


Without using 3G, considered flawed for the transmission of huge

amounts of data, or ADSL, a dedicated LAN will be present for media at each of

the 10 stadiums, at no charge to the media.


The media LANs at each stadium will be connected to the

international broadcast centre (IBC) at Nasrec in Johannesburg, via a dedicated

virtual private network (VPN), which means the data travels on its own sealed

off “road”, unaffected by the other traffic.


They will use two main lines and if one is “hit by a meteorite”

they will switch over to the remaining one.


The technical team studied the systems that have been used at vast

international sporting events, “copying and pasting” the best ideas, right down

to the number of plug points required.


Sentech, which received R204 million from the National Treasury to

meet its obligations, said it has all its containers with the electronic

equipment required for broadcasting, ready.


“The satellite antennas have been procured and Sentech plans to

have 4,8m satellite antennas at each venue for the uplinks and a 7,3m antenna at

Nasrec for the downlink installed, integrated, tested and commissioned by March

31.


“The 7,3m antenna used for the 2009 Confederations Cup is still at

Ellis Park, however, it will be dismantled and moved to Soccer City as soon as

the antenna position is finalised with Fifa,” the company said.

 

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