By Andy Sambidge
UPDATE 2: Broadcaster says it condemns 'deliberate attempt' to block TV signal.
Al Jazeera Sport, which suffered major technical problems during its broadcast of the FIFA World Cup to Middle East viewers, has blamed "a deliberate act of sabotage".
Its exclusive coverage of the South Africa versus Mexico match on Friday was hit by regular transmission problems with fan across the region unable to enjoy the spectacle.
“Al Jazeera Sport would like to condemn the actions of those involved in the deliberate attempts to block its signal during its World Cup broadcasts yesterday,” Al Jazeera Sport said in a statement published by media in Qatar on Saturday.
“Despite its considerable efforts to bring the best coverage to the most possible fans across the Middle East and North Africa including 18 free-to-air games from the group stages, Al Jazeera Sport viewers repeatedly lost their signal through the course of yesterday’s opening fixture,” the statement added.
“This loss of signal was completely beyond Al Jazeera Sport’s control and they share in the frustrations of all those whose enjoyment was spoiled by what was a deliberate act of sabotage.”
Football fans across the Middle East cried foul on Friday as the start of Al Jazeera's broadcast of the FIFA World Cup was hit by blank screens. Fans across Dubai, including thousands watching at special events across the emirate, reported technical problems.
Hundreds of fans also complained about the problems on Twitter.
Technical problems hit the beginning of the coverage by the Qatar based TV station with its special World Cup channels frozen or broadcasting in the wrong language in a number of countries, including the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Egypt.
For most of the first half an hour of the first game between hosts South Africa and Mexico, viewers were left with no picture or a frozen screen.
The issues appeared to have been sorted out shortly before half time but problems persisted throughout the second half of the match.
Broadcasts on the English language channel morphed into French commentary from the start and then the channel went blank. The English commentary only appeared much later in the first half of the game.
The only coverage working throughout was the HD channel broadcasting in Arabic only.
Broadcasting rights across the region are owned by Al Jazeera Sport, and can currently be accessed either by purchasing an Al Jazeera Sports card or through Etisalat’s pay TV E-Vision.
So does anyone REALLY know what channel the world cup football in English is on? Answering this question on this discussion group would be very useful.
The entire first match was an absolutely horrendous experience. What a joke. The languages were mixed up: the game is almost over as I write and still nothing in English. More than 30 minutes of the match were lost due to no signal. The supposed to be english channel was also on HD format by default. Messing it up on my non HD tele. And worse: one of the presenters in English had their cell phones on which duly rang during the conversations. Absolutely disgusted. Not worth the 300 + Dhs. Please don't take up such challenges if you are not up for it.
Amateurs. I want a refund. Also, a ball had not been kicked and Venables had already started his biased comments on England. Now they are all at it, saying "we" when talking about England. I am pretty certain that the majority of the people watching Al Jazerra are not English. I am dreading the coverage of the England game tomorrow. All I ask for is objective analysis.
Sack the fixers and let Sky show the inept amateurs how to transmit the world's greatest sporting event!
I too had signal problems. I managed to watch about 10 minutes of the first game in total. I have seen a website that recommends re-tuning your box to the ArabSat satellite (frequency 12034 horizontal) and I am picking up the Al Jazeera channels on this satellite. Though whether it works for the Uruguay France game I'll have to wait and see.
The opening match of the World Cup was ruined in Syria too. I wouldn't like to be the person who tells the Emir that all the work he has done to raise the profile of Qatar over the past few years has been completely dashed by Al Jazeera. Anyone out there supporting Qatar's bid to host the 2022 World Cup? I thought not...
What I find really odd is that the two HD channels were both showing the Arabic studio when surely one of them should have shown the English one. I had to switch channel at half time and at the end to go back to the studio commentary. Really bizarre.
World Cup bid ... I think not.... great advertisement for Qatar .....its back to basic boys...let orbit showtime show you how to deliver..... lets wait for the official excuse in the morning
It can only be someone else's fault. What else can AJ and ADMC say? "We don't have enough experience of showing football". Nah, that would be ridiculous.
Watched the opening game at a Dubai venue - missed most of the first half with "no signal" and second half better, but arabic or french commentary seemed to be the only options. At home watching the world cup channel for second game, all the commentary is in French. I called Du, my provider, who are clueless. Overall, hopeless coverage so far in the Middle East of the biggest sporting event of the year. Those responsible should hang their heads in shame.