As the FIFA stadium inspection entered into its second day, with a visit to Johannesburg’s Ellis Park stadium yesterday, FIFA.com took a behind-the-scenes look at broadcast operations.
Three million people will watch the World Cup in the stadiums but a cumulative television audience of an estimated 26 billion viewers will watch it on television, making broadcast operations vital to the success of the tournament.
Giving Ellis Park a thorough inspection of all things broadcast related was 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa (OC) Broadcast Manager, Robin Kempthorne.
For Kempthorne this was not just another stadium visit though, as 15 years earlier he had been in charge of a very important broadcast at this very stadium.
“It is remarkable that we are here today at Ellis Park stadium. This is where we broadcast the final match of the Rugby World Cup, this is where it all came to a climax in 1995. This brings back so many memories,” said Kempthorne of the historic match where South Africa lifted the Rugby World Cup trophy after only a few years of readmission into international sports.
Returning over a decade later to oversee for the OC what will prove to be another historic broadcast for the country, Kempthorne explained the inspection process.
“Today we looked at the various areas that that affect the broadcast world – starting off with the broadcast compound. A multitude of broadcasters will come here to this stadium with all their equipment,” said Kempthorne, explaining that while the primary broadcast would be handled by the host broadcaster (HBS), each country may have their own broadcaster to make the footage more unique and relevant to their particular audience.
“So we need the space to accommodate them and this has been allocated and now we are here to examine it. We have to look at the surface and drainage as well as cable routes as we have to work out a way to get them into the stadium from the compound. We also need to build in 110 commentary positions in the stadium as well as to make sure there are enough camera positions,” explained Kempthorne.
For after the match we need to have interview studios but we do not want the players to have to walk a long way, so we have to locate them close to the dressing rooms. An area allowing the players to be interviewed by journalists straight after the game also needs to be established, which is called the mixed zone,” said Kempthorne, referring to the many aspects of the broadcast setup that needs to be scrutinised at each stadium during the inspection tour.
For Kempthorne the inspection process is vital to ensure that the tournament goes off successfully. “At the beginning, specifications were established such as the need for a broadcast compound at the stadium. The point of these inspections is to establish whether these have been provided. We inspect to see that everything is in place,” said Kempthorne.