Channel 7 holds the
rights to broadcast the Olympics, but clearly doesn't get the
possibilities that digital television brings.
Last night was the first football match, with Australia's mens team
playing Serbia. The game started at 19:00 Sydney time, but Seven
delayed coverage until 21:00. What's more, they interrupted coverage
to cut to the announcement of the flag carrier for the opening
ceremony. Then they broke for an ad at the forty minute mark, in
other words with only about five minutes to half time.
This kind of thing is completely avoidable with digital
television. They could have very easily used spare bandwidth on their
transmitter to show the football match live, while keeping their
The DVB standard, used for digital terrestrial television in
Australia and most of the world outside North America, allows for all
kinds of dynamic reconfiguration of channels and bandwidth. In
Australia the mandate for high definition television reduces the
available bandwidth, there are alternatives.
For example, the bandwidth on the high def channel could be reduced
during the Olympics. Or Channel 7 could lease spare bandwidth from
some of the other broadcasters, perhaps with some revenue sharing --
DVB receivers are very flexible with where the programming comes
This kind of setup would be useful throughout the Olympics.
There's loads of concurrent stuff going on, so why not show more of
it? If the broadcasters want to push the digital switchover, using
the technology to its full capacity during such a high-profile event
would surely help.
Another alternative would have been to allow SBS, the
"complementary" broadcaster for the Olympics, to carry all the
football. SBS are the acknowledged home of football in Australia, and
we would have ended up with good live coverage and knowledgable
presenters. I'm not
the only one to suggest this, of course.
As an aside, aren't the Chinese spectators subdued? I've seen more
lively funerals than last night's football match!