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While we were at the Olympics, we had a chance to visit the International Broadcast Center (IBC) and Main Press Center (MPC).

This is the home of the Olympics Broadcast Services (OBS). We had to get a guest pass in order to enter this area. The security checks, stricter than those at airports, were administered by the UK armed forces. Cameramen and photographers with all their equipment and bags were checked every time they come back to the IBC after an assignment. OBS also provided a bus service to take the media to venues outside the Olympic Park. Each bus was checked for bombs planted underneath or brought on board when it return to the IBC.

According to London 2012’s website on venues, the IBC/MPC Complex (52,000 square metres of studio space and 8,000 sq m of offices) is a 24-hour media hub for around 20,000 broadcasters, photographers and journalists who will bring the Games to an estimated four billion people worldwide.

According to the venue website, the Complex also has a temporary catering village with an 800-capacity press conference room, a 4,000-seat restaurant (photo below) and a 200m-long High Street running between the MPC and IBC with outlets such as banks, newsagents, travel agents and a post office.

Actually, there was a McDonald (in addition to the canteen shown above), a beauty/massage parlour, a stage where local bands perform nightly to entertain, and a store that sells Olympics memorabilia, including some T shirts and pins with exclusive media center design. The collectible pins are particularly rare as they are not sold anywhere.

Inside the IBC are studios that are occupied by the world’s TV broadcasters – NBC apparently got the largest studios – BBC seemed to have less floor space in the IBC but they have a live broadcasting stage located high up on a stack of containers in the Olympic park. This building contained banks of equipment just outside the entrances to many of the studios and miles of cables running on an elevated bed (see photo below).

We were also very lucky to be given a tour of the heart of the IBC – the OBS Tech suites.

This is where the video signals come in from the hundreds of TV cameras from all the venues, get sorted for transmission and then archived. Just imagine if something went wrong in here – it would be an international incident!

Each of the technical functions is designated an area as indicated on the glass wall.

Audio services have their own sound-proof rooms, separate from but located next to Commentary and Switching.

A large news room which feeds a news channel is located next to the tech suites.

Outside the IBC are several so-called “satellite farms” – the one shown below is just a small one.

It was truly a unique opportunity to see where and how all the Olympics events are made viewable around the world.


One Comment

  1. Amazing! How did you guys get to be there? I’m studying media in my country and this is my kind of post, also travel!

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