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The news never stops: Behind the scenes of ITN’s preparations for Election 2024 Live: The Results

ITN's Jenny King and Jon Roberts talk to TVBEurope about the work that's gone into readying ITV's election night programme, as well as some of the technology that will ensure viewers are kept up to date throughout the night

On the night of July 4th, ITN will be producing ITV’s Election 2024 Live: The Results, which will be on air from 9.55pm until 6am the following morning.

TVBEurope spoke to Jenny King, head of technical production at ITN and Jon Roberts, director of technology, production and innovation at ITN, to find out more about the technology that will keep the marathon show on air.

How long has ITN been planning for the election? 

For a very small number of people at ITN, the planning never really stops. There is a running thread of keeping the results and graphics system up to date for example, developing that where we can, while colleagues in the newsroom – the Special Events team – will always be exploring potential key guests or contributors, maintaining contacts lists etc. But those conversations started to broaden out through the end of last year and I think we all came back in the New Year with Election prep pretty near the top on our to do lists. 

The General Election has always been a major event for ITN, and we had ramped up planning for it since the beginning of the year. We always knew there would be an election in 2024, but we were never sure when exactly it would be. We had regular planning meetings to discuss different scenarios and potential dates. We thought it would be held in autumn, so we were preparing our coverage for then. July was a surprise! 

How ready were you when the election was called?

When the election was called in June, we had to quickly adjust our plans and resources. We were as ready as we could be, given the short notice.  ITN is used to working on major live productions where we often get no notice, so six weeks is a luxury for us providing all teams across the company pull together!

Jenny King (image courtesy Peter Searle/ITN)

But while that six weeks is welcome prep for the overnight programmes, in other ways, the challenges start much more quickly and run alongside those build plans and rehearsal schedules. The campaign brings its own ramping up of demands across ITN, with special debate and interview programmes being commissioned, new digital strands quickly launched and daily news programmes being presented from location on a regular basis.

How many studios at Grays Inn Road will you use on the night? 

For ITV, we will use two studios at Gray’s Inn Road and two associated galleries for the overnight coverage. One studio will host the main presenter and guests while the other will be used for some analysis and graphic explainers. The galleries will control the live feeds, graphics, and sound for each studio.  We will also be operating a third gallery which will produce a ‘world feed’ for our International clients.

ITV News’ virtual reality setup in their main studio really comes into its own on elections. We do not have the luxury of a dedicated space for the overnight results programme, either on the night or through the rehearsal period, but we are still able to give it a special look and layout designed to support the special storytelling requirements of that show. Studio 1 will produce the evening news programme on the night and then be reimagined as the election special look in plenty of time for rehearsals less than an hour later.

ITN is also producing the overnight coverage for Channel 4, though we will be producing that show from an external studio. 

How big will the production team be?

The production team will consist of approximately 200 people at Gray’s Inn Road which includes both the editorial and technical teams.  We will also be deploying large teams of people in the field who will be spread across the country at different counts.

How many people will be working in each gallery, what are their roles, and what technology will they be using?

We operate a scalable crewing model for our news customers, with integrated live production technology supporting our ability to adapt crewing through the day depending on the requirements of each show. The same gallery used to produce the overnight results special can be operated by a single technical operator for small daily bulletins, but on election night will be fully crewed with: programme editor, gallery PA, director, 2 x technical directors (one of them controlling graphics playout across 10 Viz engines), lighting director (also responsible for vision engineering and Ultimatte chroma compositing in addition to lighting), sound supervisor, comms engineer.

Gallery 2 will be controlling one of our other studios and that will include a gallery PA, director, 1 x technical director, lighting director and sound supervisor.  The third gallery, which is used for the world feed will house a TD and a producer. 

Gallery technology includes:

2110 IP backbone

Cerebrum control

GV Kayenne vision mixers

GV multiviewers

Vizrt Director and Rendering

Vizrt virtual studio

Calrec Artemis sound mixer

Avid iNews and Command

Sony RCPs


IDS timing

How do you intend to use LED walls etc to help you tell the story of election night? 

In addition to the virtual walls in the main studio, The ITV Newsroom Studio will play a role in the overnight programme, with multiple LED screens used to visualise data. This studio contains two truckable walls (1 16×9, 1 square) giving us a flexible setup for display. The square wall is also double-sided, giving us an outward-facing display viewable from the other side of the studio glass, very useful for handover shots. In addition, there is a further large video wall outside the studio in the newsroom itself to help us brand the space too.

Jon Roberts (Image courtesy Peter Searle/ITN)
What other graphics will viewers see on the night and the day after?

The graphics will play a crucial part in the overnight programme.  We have a well-established workflow involving ‘stringers’ at each count, call takers in the newsroom and a very sophisticated database system which is managed by professional political data analysts. All of this combines to offer the fastest results service at the core of the coverage.

There are dozens of additional graphics available to the production team on the night, the vast majority of which will be driven by live data, offering instant analysis and storytelling tools.

What kind of cameras will you use?

For the election night programme, we always use more studio cameras than we would on for a day to day bulletin. For day-to-day coverage, we have three robotic peds and a jib but for the election night we will include a Steadicam and a slung camera to give a high wide shot of the studio.  Cameras in Studio 1 are Sony HDC range. We will also be using Sony FR7’s in the second studio, and we plan to deploy an MRMC Broadcast StudioBot LT for the first time too, helping us connect the two studios through new shots across our atrium.

How many counts do you expect to cover, and how will they be sent back to London?

We are looking to deploy to around 50 sites, offering us live coverage of around 120 counts. The workflows and communication lines required to make the best use of this potential coverage is a big focus of our planning and rehearsing. Our priority isn’t to be at every count, but instead to make sure we hit all the key moments that best communicate the events and drama of the night. Filtering all of those available sources into the control room with the right information is a bit of a technical challenge, but more importantly, it is a big production challenge that will make a significant difference to the coverage. 

Tom Bradby will host ITV’s Election 2024 Live: The Results (Image courtesy Harry Page/ITN)

Will they all be single cameras, or do you expect to have multi-cam setups at certain counts? 

For approximately ten of the counts, we will have single-camera coverage with an ITN reporter.  Depending on the layout of the count venue, some of them may require a second camera.  For our main OB sites, we will have multi-camera coverage

How will those feeds be ingested into your workflow? 

Due to the volume of feeds during the night of an election, they will be coming back to the studio in a variety of ways.  Most will be via LiveU using the LiveU Matrix, some will be via satellite, Starlink, Aviwest etc.  We will also use lines from BT Tower and tie lines from other broadcasters.

How likely are you to have OB trucks out? 

This is a challenging task that requires careful planning and coordination. We will work closely with other broadcasters who are within the political pool (BBC, Sky and GB News) and pool together to provide the best content from each constituency. We will have one of our OB trucks in Sunderland as a key early site and the other will be at the Keir Starmer constituency in Camden.

What’s been the biggest challenge of putting this all together?

 Time and resource.  A lot of planning and discussions were had in the lead-up to the election announcement but pulling together a major political news event in six weeks is challenging.  We have to make significant changes to our BAU workflow and studio design for the election programme which all has to be completed and rehearsed whilst producing the day-to-day bulletins in the lead up to the election night.  Other news doesn’t stop either so we have to maintain our technical support across all areas of the business whilst trying to plan for the election.