July 9, 2008 / 1:09 PM / 10 years ago

Broadcasters free to go live from Beijing during Games

BEIJING (Reuters) - Broadcasters will be able to transmit live by satellite from around Beijing and Tiananmen Square during next month’s Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Wednesday.

Chinese President Hu Jintao raises the Olympic torch during the "Welcome Ceremony for the Olympic Flame and the Launching Ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch Relay" at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, March 31, 2008. REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV

Broadcasters, some of which pay billions of dollars for Olympic rights, had complained that China had not been forthcoming with licenses to allow live transmissions during the August 8-24 Games and had tied up other processes with red tape.

Rights-holding broadcasters, which include NBC and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), met with Beijing organizing committee (BOCOG) officials on Wednesday to try and resolve the issues.

BOCOG said both rights-holders and non-rights-holders would be given licenses and frequencies to transmit live from around Beijing and the other five Olympic co-host cities, according to the IOC.

“We welcome the confirmations given today by BOCOG to broadcasters that they will be able to report and broadcast via satellite from around the city,” said International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s communications director Giselle Davis.

Sites that are classified as cultural relics, such as the Great Wall and Forbidden City, will still require permission while live transmissions from Tiananmen Square will be restricted to rights holders and only be allowed at certain times of day.

Non-rights holders will, however, be able to pre-record programs and interviews from Tiananmen, the site of the bloody crackdown on the 1989 democracy movement.

“Particularly pleasing is the fact that all broadcasts — both rights holders and non-rights holders — will be able to record interviews, reports and packages unrestricted from Tiananmen Square,” Davis added.

Live transmissions from positions on Tiananmen Square will be allowed from 6 to 10 a.m. and 9 to 11 p.m.

“Whilst we understand there may be frustrations on the part of some broadcasters that they cannot transmit live around the clock from Tiananmen Square, we recognize that this iconic location is much in demand ... and that consequently, some time constraints for live access were needed to be given by the Chinese hosts,” Davis added.

China has promised to give media the same freedom to report as they enjoyed at previous Games since winning the right to host the Olympics in 2001.

Reporting restrictions were loosened under regulations issued at the start of last year but are due to expire after the Olympics and September’s Paralympics.

Human Right Watch said in a report released on Monday that China had breached its pledge on media freedom and reporters working in China still report obstruction and harassment.

(Editing by Alex Richardson)

For more stories visit our multimedia website "Road to Beijing" here; and see our blog at blogs.reuters.com/china

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