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Students visit world’s largest broadcast control room

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Prof. Susan Walker peers into the largest television broadcast control room in the world, where audio and video are prepared for an estimated audience of 4.8 billion people. Photo by Keesa McKoy.


The image factory of the London Olympics is found at the International Broadcast House alongside the Olympic Park in London. That’s where the video and audio from every Olympic event are transmitted, logged and dubbed by commentators speaking in more than 120 languages and distributed to members of the largest global TV audience ever estimated at 4.8 billion viewers.

BU students watched, in wonder, at the massive control booth where more than 200 employees work around the clock to broadcast more than 2,000 hours of live coverage, more than any other Olympics. The International Broadcast House is also the home office for more than 13,000 accredited TV and radio journalists, including 3,000 employees of the NBC network which paid more than $1 billion for Olympics TV rights.

The complex offers food, drink, repair services, dry cleaning and even a beauty salon to the journalists who are filing at all hours of the night and day to different time zones all over the world. Olympians and visiting dignitaries such as Bill Gates and First Lady Michelle Obama stop by for interviews. More than 1,000 students are working in paid internships for the Olympics Broadcast Service and plans are underway to repeat this largest broadcast operation for the Rio Games in 2016.

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