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Sunday, October 10, 1999 Published at 09:19 GMT 10:19 UK


Global audience for Net fundraiser

The 60,000 crowd at Wembley call out for more

Dozens of pop stars have been entertaining millions around the world over the Internet in the biggest global fundraising event since Live Aid.

The BBC's Stephanie Irvin: NetAid aimed to use the Internet to fight poverty
The marathon event included three overlapping performances in New York, London and Geneva.

This time the Internet played a key role, being used to broadcast the 11-hour gig, receive donations from viewers and raise awareness of the millions of people living in poverty.

According to the organisers, it was the biggest webcast ever. They had stated their ambitious plans to attract on billion hits, but for some people accessing the site was a frustrating experience.

The BBC's Madeline Holt reports on the concerts that straddled three countries
The sheer volume of Internet users slowed down the system, making pictures grainy.

Robbie Williams, David Bowie and Catatonia were among the star draws to perform in front of a crowd of 80,000 at Wembley.

The New York Show, at the Giants stadium, was every bit as bombastic as thousands gathered on a warm autumn evening to enjoy The Black Crowes, Jewel, Sting, Puff Daddy, Jimmy Page and Busta' Rhymes.

[ image: Robbie Williams rouses the crowd]
Robbie Williams rouses the crowd
The Geneva leg, at the city's Palais des Nations, proved far more modest. Acts including Des'ree, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Bryan Ferry performed to an invitation-only crowd of 1,200 high-ranking UN staff.

Towards the end of the evening there was a "Moment of Unity" with a live link between the three concert sites, with actor Michael Douglas and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in Geneva, and the Fugees' Wyclef Jean and Bono performing NetAid single New Day in New York.

But while events were been proceeding smoothly on stage, some Internet users were frustrated with the online facilities.

Jerky pictures

[ image: Eurthymics kick off NetAid at Wembley]
Eurthymics kick off NetAid at Wembley
Thousands of Internet users are estimated to have tried to log on to the NetAid website, which was designed to be viewed with a version of RealPlayer software that many home computers do not have.

The number of users also slowed down the system, slowing transmission time, said Thomas Ritstetter, spokesman for KPMG Consulting, which set up the Website.

NetAid was set up as one of the world's most powerful Internet sites, backed by 1,200 servers in 90 locations worldwide.

It also used a new kind of network that directs each viewer's Web browser towards empty lanes on the data superhighway.

In extreme cases, the technology was designed to stop more listeners from visiting the Website than its capacity allows.

The organisers said it was the largest webcast thus far, though exact figures on the number of people accessing the webcast or donating funds via the Website are to be released in the coming days.

Organisers said 60 countries aired the concert on TV and 132 nations on radio, a record.

The NetAid organisers hope the concerts will draw people to their site, which is sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme and private business.

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