The Dakar on TV
For its 33rd edition, the Dakar has never been broadcast on as many airwaves. Out of the 192 Member States of the UN, only two of them do not have access to images of the Dakar. TV is therefore an integral part of the rally's make-up, whether at the bivouac, in the dunes or elsewhere. Apart from major broadcasters such as France Televisions, Eurosport and Fox Sports in Argentina, many other channels come to South America for the event. Here, we take a look at the Dakar's relationship with television.
It's an astonishing figure: 190; the number of different countries that show programmes covering the Dakar. Images from the world's greatest rally-raid are broadcast by 70 channels.The star programme produced on the event is the daily 26 minute broadcast which mobilises more than 72 people, spread between an editing suite of more than 50 m" in capacity, 3 helicopters and 6 TV vehicles dispatched to the rally's route. It is available to the race rights holders, but many foreign television teams also travel to the rally, with the objective of filming their own images and interviewing their country's competitors in their own language."On site, there are 20 channels present," explains Mathieu Perez, coordination and production manager, "and their crews form a total of 90 people".Of course, there are the major players such as France Televisions, Eurosport, Fox Sports or also Versus from America, but there are also smaller but just as significant crews.Some channels, like Belgian broadcaster RTBF show a 12-minute programme each evening which includes 6 minutes of the race's best moments and 6 minutes of images filmed by the crew on site"."There are two of us on the Dakar, a journalist and a cameraman," explains Olivier Gaspard, the journalist. "Our aim is to cover the Belgian competitors' progress. We try and tell their stories, but also produce features that aren't included in the international feed". Coming from a rally-raid crazy country, Gaspard evidently regrets the low number of Belgian participants. "It's obvious that if we went 20 years back in time to the era of Jacky Ickx and Gaston Rahier, it would be much easier".Still in Belgium, but in the Flanders region, one channel is scarcely bothered about the battle between the favourites. VTM is only there for one competitor: Koen Wauters, a Flemish singer and a regular on the Dakar for a few years now, not without good reason, since it is Wauters who has brought the sponsors in.Further east, Arab channel Al Jazeerah based in Qatar dispatches on journalist. "We are lucky enough that Nasser Al Attiyah, the rally leader, comes from Qatar. As a result, we broadcast a 7-minute programme devoted entirely to him and the driver from the United Arab Emirates, Abdulla Alheraiz".Others are not as lucky, but still manage to make a success of it, like Spanish television channel "Cuatro", who had adventurer and driver Jesus Calleja as their star presenter. Alas, he was forced to withdraw during the 7th stage. However, the Iberian presenter has stayed with the bivouac and broadcasts every evening to recount his experiences and those of Xavier Foj.The production facilities deployed on the Dakar also benefit channels which have not come along for the event.For example Czech Tv receives 5 minutes of images and interviews with the Czech competitors and in particular Ales Loprais. This is also the case for Danish broadcaster TV2 Danmark, which was closely following Jes Munk's progress before the biker exited the rally.The final example is one of the constructors themselves who produce images with the assistance of ASO TV and then have them broadcast by the channels in their country, as is the case with the Russian Kamaz team, who supply images to 5 channels back home.