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All eyes on the United States

29/10/2020

Philip Stevens looks at how European broadcasters have elected to cover Biden vs Trump.

By Philip Stevens

Published: October 29, 2020

Philip Stevens looks at how European broadcasters have elected to cover Biden vs Trump.

target=_blank title=Share on LinkedIn class=share-linkedin> Philip Stevens looks at how European broadcasters have elected to cover Biden vs Trump.

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November's US presidential election is bound to attract significant interest from viewers around the world. With so much happening globally at this time, the occupant of the White House for the next four years will be under enormous scrutiny both home and abroad.

However, does Covid-19 mean that coverage by broadcasters will be different from previous US elections? With that in mind what do broadcasters have in place for the 3rd November event?

For its UK audiences, ITN is producing programmes for ITV News, the ITV News website, Channel 4 News and 5News to cover the election period. This will include the special overnight programme to be shown on ITV on election night.

Tom Bradby will lead ITV News coverage from Washington. This programme, called Trump vs Biden, The Results will begin after the regional news at around 10.50pm and end at 6am on 4th November when Good Morning Britain will begin, explains Michael Herrod, ITN's head of foreign news. Our presentation will come from Washington DC, with Tom Bradby as the lead presenter.

Channel 4 News' coverage will be hosted in Washington by Matt Frei, and in London by Jon Snow and Krishnan Gurumurthy. The 5News presentation will be led by political editor Andy Bell and correspondent Julian Druker

Herrod continues, This year's election has been much harder to plan due to the travel restrictions surrounding Covid-19. Nevertheless, we are sending a team similar in size to four years ago now that we have an ability to get to the US. Our plans call for six reporters in the United States, alongside eight ENG crews.

Lucy O'Brien head of field operations at ITN adds, The crews are using a mix of LiveU and Aviwest for their coverage. The special programme for ITV will be using Aviwest HE4000 unit. This unit is being used to bring the cameras back from DC so they can be cut in the gallery in Grays Inn Road. We are using NTT encode/decoders for the return vision paths.

Each separate reporting team will have a camera operator who will shoot and edit, and have LiveU kit for live injects.

O'Brien says that in addition to using its own crews, ITN has the potential for using coverage from US broadcasters, including Associated Press for the 5News programmes.

Robert Moore, ITV News Washington correspondent says that covering a US presidential campaign is one of the great privileges of working for ITV News. You witness the spectacular made-for-TV theatre of American politics, you criss-cross the Mid-West listening to voters, you learn that there isn't one electorate, or two partisan sides, but 150 million voters all with their different issues, concerns and priorities.

ITN's recently appointed chief technology officer, Mo Akhlaq, says that being able to report and have an on the scene' presence has been an extremely important tool in the news broadcaster's arsenal. It is a vital tool allowing the audience to connect with the story or live event. Field teams are well equipped for dealing with hostile environments from war zones, protests and election coverages. Covid has added another challenging dimension, social distance. We have now introduced working practices which help to maintain social distancing and a Covid-safe work space wherever they may be. Working in bubbles, PPE (where needed) and using IP technology to acquire and delivery material in a speedy and safe manner.

BBC's broadcast plans For the BBC, Katty Kay and Andrew Neil will present the overnight BBC US Election 2020 from Washington and London.

Our programmes will be shown on BBC1, BBC World and the News Channel, says programme editor, Sam Woodhouse. Elsewhere, the BBC Persian and Arabic services will have their own progammes.

Katty Kay will be the BBC's presenter in the US. Katty will be broadcasting from our Washington bureau where we will originate a multicamera programme under the control of our bureau director. Andrew will be providing interviews and analysis from our studio in New Broadcasting House.

Alongside the studio production, around 10 ENG crews with reporters will be deployed across the US, including at the parties' headquarters and at key swing states. These will use a mix of LiveU and other mobile equipment, with most of the operators being local hire. Woodhouse says the idea is to have as few people as possible crossing the Atlantic. Every broadcaster will surely have looked at their plans and decided how best to handle the current situation surrounding coronavirus.

He continues, Having said that, I don't believe we have scaled back the operation because of coronavirus. We will still get the sense of how America is thinking by talking to the people in swing states. But the places we talk to people will change. You won't find us talking to Americans in crowded bars because there aren't many crowded bars!

Jon Sopel and Clive Myrie will be with the Trump and Biden campaigns on election night, with BBC reporters including Emily Maitlis and Nick Bryant in the crucial battleground states. We will have the services of a panel of expert political strategists assessing how the night is unfolding, how the campaign was lost and the impact the US electorate's decision will have on the years ahead.

The programme will also include big-screen graphic analysis from Christian Fraser based in Lo
LINK: https://www.tvbeurope.com/live-production/all-eyes-on-the-united-state...
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