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‘Zoom enabled me to recreate studio conditions at home’: Jon Snow on broadcasting during lockdown

How the Channel 4 News team employed Zoom for its autocue during lockdown

During the lockdown in the UK, Channel 4 News used a number of different technological solutions to stay on air while its presenters worked from home.

One of the solutions they employed was Zoom, which the team used to deliver autocue to the presenters.

“When we realised that we needed to remote present, I had to rapidly evaluate a range of streaming solutions to get autocue working with a minimal delay to the presenter,” explains Channel 4 News programme director Martin Collett.

“I piloted a number of video conferencing services, but none could deliver the sub one second round trip delay that is essential for reliable autocue. Zoom gives us the low latency video connection, and also a low latency audio return path so the operator can listen directly to the presenter. It means that Jon can rehearse scripts with the operator whilst other sections of the programme are on air.

“Before lockdown we did have a number of autocue solutions that we used for remote presentation, however, none are as easy to implement as the Zoom feed. Presenters can set it up themselves, and once it’s running there is no need for any further intervention,” Collett continues.

“Not only was my autocue text delivered from London, but I was also enabled through Zoom to see and hear the people I was interviewing clearly and in real-time,” adds presenter Jon Snow. “In effect, Zoom managed to recreate the very conditions that I have had in the studio during my 31 years of anchoring Channel 4 News. Zoom gave me confidence and certainty and enabled me to work from home with no diminution of service.”

Collett says that the production team developed a number of new techniques due to the restrictions in place during lockdown and expects those to continue now lockdown has eased.