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Webcasting Hong Kong's transition

More than 20 major broadcasters launch Webcasts to help cover Hong Kong's return to China.

More than 20 major broadcasters launched Webcasts today to help cover Hong Kong's return to China, the latest example of news organizations using the Web to report high-profile events.

The broadcasters, which include ABC News, the BBC, Bloomberg, CNN, C-Span, Fox News, and MSNBC, will continue their coverage tomorrow and Wednesday.

These sites are offering Netizens audio and video clips of such historic events as the official British farewell and fireworks show, the official transition banquet, the formal "handover" itself, and the inaugural speech.

The territory's transition from British rule to the People's Republic of China has been watched with particular interest by Netizens to see if Beijing's restrictive speech policies will be extended to Hong Kong.

Despite the expanded use of Webcasts to cover live events, many users still complain that the technology and its quality must improve to make it a better experience than television, newspapers, or even radio. Some have even suggested that they are little more than publicity stunts.

So far, however, the sites are generating more traffic than expected. "These sites are getting hit pretty hard," said Jay Wampold, spokesman for Progressive Networks, whose audio programs are being used on the Webcasts. "This is beyond what people expected."

Progressive Networks lined up former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Schultz to voice their support for the Webcasts.