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Swiss take Olympics online

Philippe Mottaz (right) says the IOC will be carefully monitoring the success of the Internet project Keystone Archive

A Swiss broadcaster has been granted the right to show footage of the Winter Olympics on the Internet in a landmark deal with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

This content was published on February 7, 2002 - 07:44

Under the terms of the deal, which marks the first time the IOC has agreed to allow pictures from the Olympics to be broadcast on the Internet, the French-speaking Swiss channel, TSR, will broadcast selected events on the web to an audience of pay-per-view subscribers.

"It's not on the Internet proper," explains Philippe Mottaz, director of TSR's interactive division, "but on a closed network which can only be accessed by subscribers."

"This was one of the conditions set by the IOC when it authorised this trial for a limited period."

The deal, negotiated with the IOC last year, allows TSR to make available on the web all its television broadcasts from Salt Lake City.

Enhanced facilities

In addition to replaying terrestrial TV coverage on their PCs, web subscribers will be able to select not just which event to watch but also which camera they would like to watch the action through.

"What you see on the web will be enhanced with a stream of data which will give you real-time statistics about the race," Mottaz told swissinfo.

"This is the same system that the commentators will use in Salt Lake City, so if you've ever dreamed of being a sports commentator, you can practice on this screen," he added.

Subscribers will also be offered the opportunity to watch the performance of two Olympic athletes simultaneously on the same screen and compare their individual races.

Despite the enhanced coverage and interactivity of the web, Mottaz does not believe the Internet will ever replace terrestrial television coverage of the Olympics.

"Especially with regard to sports events, I don't think that the social function of the TV screen will diminish. You will still gather in front of the TV with your family or in the bars to watch the main games and share the enthusiasm," he said.

"So I see the web as being complementary to traditional media, and it is not at all the PC versus the TV."

The success or otherwise of TSR's trial webcasts, which will only be available to subscribers in Switzerland, will be evaluated by the IOC at the end of the Winter Olympics.

by Ramsey Zarifeh

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