Commonwealth Games host broadcaster Prasar Bharati is racing against time to ensure coverage as the Organising Committee (OC) has failed to provide most of the venues for testing sophisticated equipment at broadcasting centers at the stadiums.
As per earlier extended deadlines, Doordarshan was to get three and a half months to install and test its equipment at each stadium as against international norm of six months but due to delay in civil works the public broadcaster will now get just a month to complete the entire process. September 1 is the new, and perhaps the last, deadline to start testing the equipment.
“Delayed have occurred at different levels,” explained Prasar Bharati chief executive officer B S Lalli, who has written to OC chairperson Suresh Kalmadi regarding the impending dangers of the delays on overall games broadcast. “We have to make for the delays of other agencies and have been forced to compress our timeline for project execution.”
Prasar Bharati had got Rs 366 crore for upgrading its infrastructure and setting up broadcasting centers compatible to high definition signal at 17 games venues two years ago. The agency, whose games budget was not been increased, has been forced to wait as civil works at the stadiums carried out by Sports ministry and other bodies got delayed.
“Till Wednesday the work at half of these venues was still going on,” said a senior Doordarshan official. At Karni Singh Shooting range, the Broadcasting Engineering Consultants India (BECIL) – agency carrying out work for DD --- was to complete work by end of June. BECIL got the site, that too partially, only on June 28. It was to finish all broadcast related work by August 15 but now expects to do the same by mid September.
Even at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, where opening and closing ceremonies of the games would be held, the BECIL’s deadline of August 15 to complete the work will be missed. Documents with HT show that same is the case with Shyama Prasad Mukerjee stadium and Indira Gandhi Indoor stadium, where cycling and wresting events will take place. Even though BECIL had set up initial infrastructure for the broadcasting centers, it cannot test whatever equipment has been installed in absence of power supply. On Wednesday, DD directed BECIL to hire power generators to run the equipment till the Central Public Works Department provides electricity supply.
Despite senior DD officials portraying the picture that “all is well” junior levels official admit of dangers of pushing the broadcaster to the wall. “There is very little time to identify the errors and implement its remedies. We will be working in three shifts to ensure that equipment is in place by mid-September for testing. We will have less than 15 days to ensure world-class broadcast whereas the international norm is that everything should be ready at least six months in advance,” said a DD engineer, who was not willing to be quoted.
Lalli described the situation as of concern and said that DD has been worst affected because of delays as it came at the end of the chain of the entire games planning process.