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News broadcasters: Don’t sign your own death warrant

Ignoring the opportunities and flexibility of mobile could mean that broadcasters risk signing their own death warrant. This was the message from IBC’s ‘Live is Dead: Long Live Live’ session, where the panellists were unanimous in urging broadcasters, not just in news, but right across the entertainment spectrum, to embrace mobile technology.

“Live can be done now, or differently, better and even with others,” said BBC North’s Tim Sargeant. “We have to break out of the expensive gallery-based facility and do things differently and with the new toolsets that are cheap and with rich features.

We need to use this complementary world, with more self-streaming from journalists and also working with partners from other reputable organisations, tapping into their output.”

Glen Mulcahy, RTE head of innovation, was blunt in his message, saying that the smartphone was the true ‘Swiss Army knife’ for broadcasters. “But if you just use it as a phone or to check emails then it’s like owning a Ferrari but only driving in first gear! Mobile journalism is all about off-the-shelf kit.

The days of the €80,000news crew are numbered. Today we can do the same for much less than €5,000. It is the story that is everything.”

Mulcahy showed delegates impressive footage, all of which had been captured on a smartphone, which he said were getting better every day, and are now 4K, HDR and HEVC.

Perhaps even more technically challenging was Swisscom Television’s Thomas Rajman, who worked with Red Bull to create six live simultaneous events from cable cars in the Swiss Alps (Gondeli 2017), some with DJs and some with music groups.

Using mobile technology and Sony cloud-based remote switching, the transmission was viewed by more than 200,000. Another event at the Locarno Film Festival this August saw live reports and backstage interviews which generated 120 stories and 700 minutes of broadcast.

“Our biggest worry was whether the huge audience in the Piazza would swamp our signals.”

Keith Wymbs, CMO at AMS Elemental, explained the complexity in the April live 4K transmissions from the International Space Stations, and a broadcast that started when the ISS was over New Mexico and 11 minutes later was over Africa