Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fifa happy with 2010 broadcast plan

Television viewers of the 2010 Soccer World Cup are expected to outnumber physical spectators by a ratio of 1:10 000, but tournament organiser Fifa is confident the broadcasting infrastructure will be in place.

Scheduled for July 2010, the country is expecting three million visitors during the four weeks of the World Cup. While there are still concerns over transport infrastructure and accommodation, Fifa says the broadcasting system is all but sown up.

Niclas Ericson, director of Fifa's TV division, says Fifa, along with the Local Organising Committee, Telkom and the Department of Communications, meet regularly on the telecommunications committee to discuss progress.

“We bring our experts, and they bring theirs and there is a good working relationship between all parties.”

Ericson says the upgrade of Telkom's core infrastructure, to meet the broadcasting requirements, would be finished by March next year. He also believes increasing the capacity of the Telkom SAT-3 undersea cable would enhance international connectivity for transmitting the signal out of the country.

Crucial capacity

The international capacity will be crucial during the scheduled three kick-off times of 1.30pm, 4pm and 8.30pm daily.

“We are also pleased to see there is progress in the completion of other undersea cable projects and that the second [Sentech] satellite station will also be completed,” he says.

The requirements for fibre-optic lines with a 20GBps capacity from the 10 stadiums where the matches will be played to the international broadcasting centre, in Johannesburg, will also be in place once the venues are completed.

“All the venues are on track for completion within the required time period,” he notes.

Each venue will have a minimum of 24 high-definition TV cameras and a number of extra cameras, such as “spider cameras”, and 3D tracking, all of which makes for demanding editing requirements, Ericson says.


Speaking during an event hosted by communications equipment group Ericsson, in Cape Town yesterday, Ericson said Fifa was ahead of schedule in tying up its free-to-air contracts, with the last country, Nigeria, expected to sign a contract shortly.

Fifa wants a minimum of 22 of the 64 matches to be free-to-air. Pay-TV packages will include pre-match interviews and real-time information statistics, such as how many kilometres a player has run on the field.

“We need the pay-TV broadcasters' participation, because free-to-air stations don't necessarily have the capacity to devote as much time to match interviews,” Ericson says.

Fifa also plans to make as much use as possible of non-linear broadcasting – broadcasting media outside of traditional radio and TV. This will include extensive use of the Internet and digital video broadcast – handheld – the receiving of images on a mobile phone.

Ericson says Fifa has held discussions with the African Union of Broadcasters that will result in this coming World Cup being used as a training event to improve the standard of sports journalism.


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