Main Press Centre has all facilities, though not fully operational

By Sirshendu Panth, IANS,

New Delhi: The state-of-the-art Main Press Centre for the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games here has come in for praise from foreign correspondents, though tardy pace of service and lack of media background material pose problems.

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The aesthetically designed MPC at the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) Complex at Pragati Maidan opened Sept 23 and is now operational for 14 hours daily. Come Oct 1, it will be functional round-the-clock.

The facility, resplendent in multi-colours with a capacity to accommodate 600 journalists at a time-400 reporters and 200 photo jounralists -is regarded as the largest press centre in the Games’ history. The MPC is pread across 6,700 square meters.

“There are 300 desktop computers with broadband connectivity — 200 for reporters and 100 for photographers. And it is the first time in the history of the Games that High Definition television footage is being beamed,” MPC manager Ashar Khan said.

Khan told IANS that out of 1,227 presspersons accredited for the Games from across the country, over 600 have already taken their cards. “A substantial number of the 600 odd foreign journalists have also arrived.”

Margie Mcdonald, sports journalist of the leading Australian daily ‘The Australian’ was all praise for the facilities. “It is fantastic, better and bigger than the MPCs in any other Commonwealth Games. I am getting fast internet access. The support staff and volunteers are all very cooperative and friendly,” said Mcdonald, who has covered three Olympic Games, five paralympics and four Commonwealth Games.

“It is modern, and nicely designed,” she told IANS while keying in a report on her laptop.

News Limited, the holding company of The Australian, is one of the six news and photo agencies and newspapers to have set up their private offices at the MPC. The others are Getty Images, Agency France-Presse, Associated Press, Australian Associated Press and Press Association.

“We have charged them $2000 for booking 20 square metres space. Most of them have booked 100 square metres paying $1000,” Khan said.

However, there are still some loose ends.

The volunteers are all young, courteous, and enthusiastic, but seem total greenhorns in dishing out services.

“It seems they should have been trained better to address the requirements of the press,” said a journalist.

A reporter, who asked for an MTNL internet data card being allotted to journalists, was kept waiting for over seven hours and after that what he was handed was Internet id and password for access. When the reporter clarified that he was asking for data card, the volunteer had a blank stare.

Another problem was the dearth of communication material.

Sources said the Games news service provider, Infostrada Sports, is yet to even begin trial runs for the Games, let alone supplying news material to scribes.

The problem lay in the authorities’ failure to finish some “overhead cabling work”.

“Normally, such trial runs for multi-discipline events as big as the Commonwealth Games are started two weeks before the Opening ceremony,” sources said.

These glitches apart, the facilties impressive.

There are eight sports viewing rooms, each capable of sitting 50 scribes, with big LCD television screens.

“Journalists, whose newspapers don’t have the capacity to send in a large number of reporters, can watch live the sporting action at various venues and file their reports. We will draw up a daily schedule of the events to be shown in the viewing rooms and give it to the reporters,” said Khan.

The MPC also has two press conference rooms, capable of seating 300 and 70 reporters. The bigger one is connected to the International Broadcast Centre, meant for the electronic media.

Khan said the wi-fi facility will also be provided.

(Sirshendu Panth can be contacted at [email protected])