24 TVBEurope London 2012 Countdown Game plan for London
OBS is responsible for ensuring all the action is captured during the Games
As the Host Broadcaster, OBS is chiefly responsible for providing the images and sound of the Olympic Games as a service to all broadcast organisations who have purchased the television and radio rights. Philip Stevens finds out how the host broadcaster for the fast-approaching London Games is going about its business
CREATED BY the International Olympic Committee, Madrid-based Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) is responsible for handling the Host Broadcaster function for all Olympic Games — Summer, Winter and Youth. Although it has been in existence since 2001, the organisation’s first Games — a joint venture between OBS and the Chinese organising committee — was the 2008 event held in Beijing. The 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver marked the first time that the Host Broadcast was solely an OBS operation. OBS produces and transmits the unbiased live radio and television coverage, known generally as the International Signal or the World Feed for the various Rights Holder Broadcasters (RHBs). In addition to developing a
multilateral production plan for the International Signal, OBS provides additional services, equipment, facilities and supplies to the RHBs in order to help them produce their own unilateral production coverage.
Central to all the OBS
operations is the International Broadcast Centre (IBC), which is located in the Olympic Park in Stratford, just east of the capital. The construction of the building shell started in March 2009 and was completed in July 2011. OBS took delivery of the IBC
in August 2011 at which time the construction of the broadcast installation began. The IBC will
are sent from the Technical Operations Centre in the broadcast compound at each venue to the IBC via a fully redundant fibre-optic network, radio frequency, microwave or satellite links. Once at the IBC, these signals are controlled, processed and circulated to the RHBs through OBS’ Distribution Centre. Here the signals are synchronised and
the Transmission Centre. The Broadcast Distribution Network transmits the ITVR and the unilateral audio, video, commentator and coordination circuits from OBS to international gateways for worldwide delivery to the RHBs home countries. The Transmission Centre also sends any necessary return video circuits to venues or other sites.
There will be a 3D operations centre in the IBC to receive and distribute the signals to Pool participants and to produce a daily highlights programme as part of the 3D channel transmission
officially open next month. Covering a functional space of 48,300sqm, the IBC houses the technical and administrative facilities for both OBS and the RHBs including edit suites, control rooms, studios and offices.
The signals associated with
the multilateral transmission and the unilateral coverage
processed to provide both standard (SD-SDI) and high definition video signals. All international multilateral signals available at the IBC will be in high definition 1,485Mbps 1080i/50 SMPTE- 292M with up to eight embedded audio channels. All signals to be distributed outside OBS will pass through
“Through its experience of
broadcasting Olympics, and several years of meticulous planning, OBS will ensure that Rights Holding Broadcasters are provided with the world class core coverage and broadcast facilities they require to take the Games to all parts of the globe,” states Paul Mason, the head of OBS
London. “In order to achieve this, at Games Time the International Broadcast Centre will be the largest broadcast production centre in the world.”
Scale of the challenge The Olympic Games are the world’s largest broadcast operation, with an estimated global audience of 4.8 billion people in more than 200 countries and territories. Approximately 13,000 Rights Holding Broadcasting personnel will be accredited to provide coverage for the Games. The OBS team itself will
increase from 150 full time employees to a workforce of around 5,600 people by the start of the Games. This figure includes the more than 1,000 students who will be hired through the Broadcast Training Programme (BTP) — a project involving 10 universities and colleges across the UK. “The BTP offers students the opportunity to work for OBS in 12 different paid positions during the Games. It brings with it a form of legacy which is both portable and lifelong for the