Making the Right Connections

The Commentary Switching Centre (CSC) team

When it comes to business, it’s good to have the right connections; when it comes to the Commentary Switching Centre (CSC), it’s essential. “We can prepare in advance all of the relevant connections for one match. Then, when we switch on this match, all of the connections are made at the same time, just like that,” explains Senior Engineering Manager Bernard Wright.

“That is why preparation is so important for us,” explains Patrick Renard, the CSC Operations Technical Manager. “We like to check, check, check and check again so that everything is ready at the venue’s Commentary Control Room (CCR) and the MRLs can arrive at their commentary position and start operating immediately.”

“That’s why we try to connect the circuits as soon possible to the IBC because in the offices they can get the identification signals – known as idents – from each position. It just says, ‘This is commentary position x’ on loop. MRLs hear that in the IBC and know they are connected to the right circuit and when the commentator arrives they just have to ask us to get rid of this ident.”


Put simply, the CSC works in conjunction with the Booking department to take the MRL commentary position bookings and turn them into physical switch circuits – or, in other words, to connect them. So, the role of the CSC is to control and connect all national and international commentary and coordination audio circuits. These circuits can be switched to MRLs at the IBC and outside of the IBC. Three different types of distribution can be used: analogue cabling within the IBC; ISDN turnaround for MRLs outside of the IBC and IP/Ravenna technology.

Preparation is vital at the CSC, so when the switch is made every MRL is connected as they should be


A team consisting of Patrick, two supervisors and two operators are joined by technical support from the service providers. “Each match there is typically an operator and a supervisor working at the IBC,” says Patrick. “Then I’m always in the background to step in if needs be. However, we’ve not had any situations that needed three people to work on one match.

Using the same audio matrix which was implemented for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South AfricaTM, the CSC can connect up to 200 signals per stadium with uncompressed high-quality audio circuits. As well as checking all circuits for content and quality, the CSC will also align them to the same time as the multilateral video content. Hence the importance of the clapperboard test!


With a constant line of communication set up with the CCR at the venue and also MRLs at the IBC, the CSC are just the push of a button away from finding out, and then solving, any problems which may occur. “We have direct communication with the CCR at every stadium and whatever problem we have communicated to us at the IBC, we can immediately report that to the CCR team in order for them to investigate it,” adds Patrick. “But we hope all of the hard work in preparation can help avoid any issues. If our office is quiet, it means we have done a good job.”

The CSC is in constant connection with the Commentary Control Room (CCR) at the venue