Beijing opens Olympic media centresJuly 8th, 2008 - 1:50 pm ICT by IANS
Beijing, July 8 (DPA) Organisers of the 2008 Olympics Tuesday opened three media centres for the games, promising to allow live broadcasts from anywhere in the city and full access to the internet. “You can do live broadcast on the Beijing streets and in Tiananmen Square,” said Sun Weijia, media director of the Beijing organizing committee.
Sun and other official told reporters that the Chinese government would also allow journalists “full access” to the internet during the games, suggesting that it would suspend its normal blocking of sensitive political content.
The opening of the Main Press Centre for accredited print journalists and photographers, the International Broadcast Centre and the Beijing International Media Centre for non-accredited journalists have allowed the first few of an expected 25,000 journalists to start work.
Hein Verbruggen, the International Olympic Committee’s coordinator for the 2008 games, said the Main Press Centre was “one of the most important venues for the games.”
The press centre is the largest so far built for an Olympic Games and is designed to accommodate 5,600 journalists, offering them a full range of services including hairdressing, a gymnasium and massages, Verbruggen said.
Another 16,000 journalists will work in the broadcast centre, with at least 3,000 expected to use the media centre for non-accredited journalists, Sun said.
The opening of the three media centres came amid criticisms that China had failed to meet its commitment to allow greater freedom for foreign journalists in the run-up to next month’s games.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) said the government had not adhered to its own temporary regulations for foreign media.
The regulations apply from January 2007 to October 2008 and in principle allow foreign journalists to talk to anyone who agrees to an interview, in all areas except for the Tibet Autonomous Region.
“The Chinese government has not yet lived up to its Olympic promise of complete reporting freedom and there are mixed signals about its willingness to do so,” FCCC president Jonathan Watts said in a statement.
“In the run up to the games, we have seen steps forward towards greater openness and at the same time backward to tighter controls,” Watts said.
US-based Human Rights Watch made similar criticisms in a report issued Monday.
“The gap between government rhetoric and reality for foreign journalists remains considerable,” Human Rights Watch said.
“Their working conditions today, while improved in some respects, have deteriorated in other areas, dramatically in the case of Tibet,” the group said.
It said strictly controlled Chinese journalists had gained nothing from the temporary rules and were “subject to further controls” in the run up to the Olympics.
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