Television

APTN brings war into Chinese drawing rooms

LONDON: Associated Press Television News (APTN), the world's leading television news agency, made broadcast history when it helped bring live coverage of the war in Iraq to the Chinese state television, China Central Television (CCTV).

CCTV is one of 40 broadcasters which has signed up to APTN Direct - a new service which delivers two satellite channels of live, war-related coverage to it existing subscribers.

When war broke out, CCTV broke into scheduled programming, using APTN coverage from Baghdad and also live coverage of war planes taking off from the USS Constellation in the Persian Gulf. "China watchers say it is the first time they can remember CCTV breaking into scheduled programming for an international news event. It is certainly the first time they have run live pictures from an American warship in action," said Nigel Baker, APTN's Director of Content. 

APTN used a videophone with a gyroscopic antenna to deliver live pictures from the USS Constellation. The live video was used by broadcasters worldwide. APTN was also the first organisation to broadcast live pictures of Umm Qasr, in southern Iraq, using a specially-equipped desert friendly vehicle fitted with a customised light-weight satellite uplink. A similar vehicle was also used to deliver live coverage of the bombing of Mosul in northern Iraq. 

APTN made a multi-million dollar investment in technology and satellite capacity to deliver the APTN Direct service, which allows broadcasters to access live material of the war - including pictures from Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey, and the Persian Gulf. The 40 customers were signed in the two weeks before war broke out. 

Said Baker: "This must be the fastest roll-out of a news agency service and demonstrates the intense international interest in live news coverage." APTN currently has 120 staff and 14 uplinks deployed in the Middle East. It is also the only international organisation providing transmission facilities for broadcasters - remaining in Baghdad since the conflict started.

APTN Direct was launched on 14 March 2003, and is available to customers of its main channel - known as the Global Video Wire. 

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