Olympics reduce Internet radio streaming to a trickle

Summary:Some Australian broadcast outlets have been forced to shut down their Internet radio broadcasting streams to avoid breaching the International Olympic Committee's strict rules governing use of Olympic Games material. The national broadcaster, the ABC, and heavyweight Sydney radio station 2GB are two of those who have largely shut down their Internet radio broadcasting streams for the duration of the Olympic Games.

Some Australian broadcast outlets have been forced to shut down their Internet radio broadcasting streams to avoid breaching the International Olympic Committee's strict rules governing use of Olympic Games material.

The national broadcaster, the ABC, and heavyweight Sydney radio station 2GB are two of those who have largely shut down their Internet radio broadcasting streams for the duration of the Olympic Games.

The ABC said that it has redistribution rights for Olympic material for radio use but was restricted from streaming any of the material online. The move forced it to shut down all but one of its Internet radio streams.

A spokesperson for 2GB confirmed a message on the station's Web site that read "Unfortunately 2GB's Live Internet Stream will be offline until August 30, after the completion of the Olympic Games".

Head of content for ABC new media and digital services, Ian Vaile, said the IOC was being very restrictive over the Olympic Games distribution rights, as the use of such material would usually be considered "fair dealing" once it has been broadcast.

"The IOC has restricted rights so that we can't air any Olympic Games material taken from the precinct at all, so therefore we can't stream any station that has news bulletins," he said.

Vaile said the only ABC station to remain streaming 24 hours online is DIG, an all music station. Triple J will also be broadcast online during non-news hours (6pm to 6am), he said, along with certain segments of Classic FM.

"We can stream Triple J between six and six because there's a low risk of Athens material being broadcast," said Vaile. "Producers have been told to contact us first if there's anything that may be in breach of the rules."

The ABC could face being sued by the IOC should it breach the no broadcast rule, said Vaile, or possibly have it's accreditation withdrawn from covering the Games in Athens. However, Vaile adds the rules for the 2004 Athens Olympics are the same as they were in the 2000.

"It happened to one broadcaster in the 2000 Olympics -- they had their accreditation suspended because of a breach of rights," he said.

According to Vaile, the IOC had special units to pursue possible breaches of the broadcasting rules in Sydney during the Olympics.

Vaile said the ABC contacted the IOC ahead of the Games this year to ask for an exemption from the rules so that it could continue streaming two of its stations.

"The ABC contacted the IOC seeking an exemption for news bulletins for Radio National and Triple J but they said no," he said.

"I found it extremely frustrating that we had to take nearly all the streams down, even those that were unlikely to have Olympic material. Its news, it's in the public domain, but in the end the risk outweighs the frustration."

Vaile said as part of the rules the ABC will not have the rights to "ever" broadcast any of the Olympic Games material online.

ABC's online station streams -- with the exception of the DIG channel -- were turned off last Wednesday night at 6pm, before the football competition went to air Vaile said, and the ABC is now unsure of when it will be allowed to resume online broadcasting.

"Not sure exactly when we can begin streaming again, but we want to as soon as possible," he said.

Topics: Browser, Enterprise 2.0, Government : AU

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