Israelis complain World Cup camera angles render tournament ‘unwatchable’
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Israelis complain World Cup camera angles render tournament ‘unwatchable’

Public broadcaster officially protests feed quality after receiving ‘nonstop extreme criticism’ from viewers

Wide-angled footage broadcast in Israel of the Argentina-Iceland soccer match in the FIFA World Cup on June 16, 2018. (Screen capture: Twitter)
Wide-angled footage broadcast in Israel of the Argentina-Iceland soccer match in the FIFA World Cup on June 16, 2018. (Screen capture: Twitter)

Complaints by thousands of Israelis watching the FIFA World Cup have prompted the country’s public broadcaster to send a formal letter of protest over “unacceptable and at times unwatchable” wide-angle footage of the soccer matches.

Many viewers took to social media on Saturday to complain that some matches, especially the highly viewed encounter between Argentina and Iceland, were filmed from a wide angle, farther from the pitch than normal, resulting in footage that made it hard to see the ball and identify the players.

Israel’s public broadcaster Kan, which is in charge of broadcasting most World Cup matches, said it had purchased the right to transmit the matches in relatively new 4K technology, resulting in the wider angle.

It has since switched one of its channels to more traditional HD technology, where the footage may be of poorer quality, but is closer to the pitch.

Some viewers posted comparisons between the images Israelis were seeing and the footage appearing on streaming applications and international channels. Others jokingly said one needed a telescope to follow what was going on in the matches.

Kan on Saturday sent an “urgent” official complaint to HBS, the company in charge of filming and international broadcasting of the games.

The Israeli broadcaster said it has been “under nonstop extreme criticism and scrutiny from media and viewers. The complaints from the public all basically say the same: The matches’ camera shots are so far from the field we can hardly see the ball. The audience is used to much closer angles.”

Kan said similar complaints about the angle could be seen on social media from viewers around the world.

“Despite our immense financial and logistical investment in this project… our viewers report great anguish and distress,” Kan wrote. “We’ve been receiving numerous complaints from viewers (with big- and medium-sized screens) that the camera angle is not slightly wider, but much wider. Too wide.

“We are therefore asking for HBS’ official response and suggested plan of action to resolve this matter without delay for the benefit of our viewers, as we are under extreme public pressure,” it said.

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