The recent riots across the UK have resulted in some extraordinary content from channels like the Sky-carried Sangat TV – whose live coverage and community outreach efforts was described as “jaw-dropping” by The Guardian, writes David Fox.
In such fast-moving, volatile situations, the LU60 cost-effectively provided it with the ability to deploy cameras quickly and with mobility that satellite trucks could not match.
With cameras hooked into a video-over-cellular uplink unit, carried by their users in a backpack, images were relayed instantly from the heart of the riots. The reporting team was so close to the action that at one stage they gave a lift to a police officer chasing looters (resulting in four arrests – broadcast live, see picture).
The LU60 is a bonded 3G/4G LTE cellular uplink using proprietary RF technology for added resiliency and can transmit up to 1080 HD video.
Sangat TV is about to celebrate its first anniversary on 1 September, and is transmitted free-to-air on Sky channel 847. It is the first project from the Sangat Trust, a charitable organisation promoting positive values and ethics. Normally it is a Sikh-based religious channel with lifestyle programming, but it found itself operating as a key news outlet at the forefront of live coverage of the rioting thanks to its technology. Following the coverage, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, told the House of Commons that Sangat TV’s contribution was “an example of a media company’s commitment to social responsibility.”
The station is run by about six people backed by volunteers and had planned to move to offering news coverage within two to five years, but events and technology have made that transition happen sooner than expected.
It leased the LU60 units, with mobile data plans, to provide live coverage of religious events in the UK and Europe, but as the trouble flared and rumours spread, it was contacted by a local councillor in Birmingham’s Handsworth area to make an appeal for peace. Rather than the councillor coming to the studio, Sangat TV broadcast him live using 3G from outside a local place of worship. Following that, the channel captured live pictures of the riots that others couldn’t, using its compact HD cameras. Its footage has been used by the BBC, Sky News, ITV, Channel 4, CNN and many others.