Barcelona 25: Birth of Modern Olympic Broadcasting

(ATR) The Barcelona Olympics ushered in the modern era of Olympic broadcasting 25 years ago.

(ATR) The Barcelona Olympics ushered in the modern era of Olympic broadcasting 25 years ago.

From the first uses of digital video recording to the debut of high-def TV, the 1992 Barcelona Olympics took broadcasting the Games to a new level.

Structurally, RTO 92, as the host broadcast operation was known, was the first to be fully integrated as a part of the organizing committee. Previously broadcasters in the host nation had taken on that job.

Heading RTO 92 was Manolo Romero, the Spanish TV executive who would move on from Barcelona to lead Olympic broadcasting operations for the next 20 years.

"It was of course a very important milestone from a broadcasting perspective since the ’92 Games was the first step in the Host Broadcasting organization of the Games as we know them today," Romero tells Around the Rings.

"In broadcasting terms, all sports were covered live for the first time. Barcelona brought many new technological advances, such as super slow motion and specialty cameras such as tracking cameras. It was also a testfor European and Japanese high definition television," says Romero.

He headed an operation in Barcelona that employed 3300 staff, the biggest Olympic broadcast team to that point.

"This was the beginning of the modern Olympic broadcast coverage," says Romero.

Among other Barcelona notables, these Olympics were the first to produce live coverage of each of the 26 sports on the program. Camera technology took a giant step towards compactness, the smaller cameras delivering broadcast quality images while making it easier to catch the action. Satellite technology also kept getting smaller, with mobile satellite dishes delivering signals for the first time.

Despite his important role in the 1992 Olympics, Romero wasn’t able to return to the Catalan capital for the 25th anniversary commemorations. His company, International Sports Broadcasting, was in charge of the broadcast operations for the just ended World Games in Wroclaw, Poland. Like Barcelona, Romero’s work at the World Games is credited for taking coverage of that event to a new level.

Written by Ed Hula.

20 Years at #1: Your best source of news about the Olympics is, for subscribers only.