IP newsgathering grows in stature – Part I

Since IP newsgathering made its initial splash when CNN pioneered the technology for its coverage of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict in 2006, it has steadily gained momentum not just as a go-anywhere way to contribute live and edited pieces from war zones, but also as a reliable path for local stations to contribute stories from the field.

When it comes to its place in the newsgathering pecking order of technology, it seems most local broadcasters echo the sentiment of Pete Sockett, director of engineering and operations for WRAL-TV, which serves the Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville, NC market. “IP newsgathering definitely has grown up a lot in the past couple of years,” he says. “It’s a great addition to our toolbox to do news.”

This complementary role for IP newsgathering is understandable. With a $1 billion-plus infrastructure dedicated to supporting traditional point-to-point microwave and satellite contribution, as well as a long track record of reliable service, ENG and SNG have claimed for themselves premiere status when it comes to delivering live reports from the field.

However, while not the dominant view, a few stations are beginning to make IP newsgathering their primary, and in at least one case, only means of field contribution. Morris Network, which owns stations in Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee, is completely phasing out both ENG and SNG live units in favor of IP newsgathering.

“Look at it from a practical standpoint,” says Dean Hinson, president of Morris Network. “You take a live unit, satellite or whatever. There’s travel time, setup time, breakdown time. You have a lot of resources tied up in that arena.”

The Dejero IP newsgathering system the Morris Network deployed has eliminated that downtime, improved the productivity of its newsgathering crews and extended the reach of its stations’ news coverage, he says. For those reasons, the station group has decided to eliminate traditional SNG and ENG.

Editor’s note: Part 2 of “IP newsgathering grows in stature” is available on the Broadcast Engineering website.