Citizen journalism might be thriving worldwide, but Reuters has joined forces with visionary company TIMA to enter the daring business of delivering high-end live news footage, coverage and analysis to broadcasters.
Maybe, you’ve been gripped watching live TV news of Britain’s newest royal baby, the daughter of England’s Prince William and Kate Middleton and fourth in line to the British throne. Or your national channel has been airing on-the-ground scenes of victims struggling to survive the Nepal earthquake. Meanwhile, are you ready for round-the-clock TV scrutiny of the 7 May general election (see picture below) in the UK, one of the world’s biggest global economies?
On each of these internationally momentous occasions, the recently launched Reuters-TIMA Location Services dispatches journalists and production crews to cover the breaking and evolving news in any part of the world.
Using state-of-the-art technology installed in outside-broadcast trucks linked to global satellite networks and live studios (pictured below), Reuters-TIMA beams down the resulting stories to its clients: leading national and international TV networks. The broadcasters then use the footage, clips and reportage to ensure their viewers have access to international news as it happens.
“We are literally involved in events everywhere. We could be reporting a natural disaster in one part of the world or the Oscars at another,” Alla Salehian, TIMA’s CEO/founder, explains. “The growing number of live news programs and channels are driving demand for location stories. This means broadcasters can concentrate on their core regions and outsource the overseas stories.”
Reuters-TIMA Location Services is a joint venture of Reuters, the renowned international news agency (and part of the Thomson-Reuters multinational), and TIMA, an independent broadcast news agency that originally launched in 2012.
Since launching in February at Hollywood’s 87th Oscar awards ceremony, the new Location Services has increased its client base by 30%-plus. It has snapped up clients that include CNN, Euronews, Japan’s Nippon TV and Australia’s Seven Network, among others, across four continents.
Headquartered in London, Reuters-TIMA’s flying start confirms broadcasters’ growing demand for superior live videos, a professional complement to citizen journalism’s recordings on amateur video cameras and smartphones for social media.
In our digital age, foreign-correspondence journalism is continually being read the last rites. So what made Salehian, former director of global media services at the Associated Press and previously managing editor at pan-Arab TV company MBC, gamble with his own money to invest in a global TV broadcast news agency? And where does Reuters come in?
“To make this work, you need economy of scale and scope,” Salehian observes. “It really makes sense to have an international news agency to help gather accurate information on the ground and what could be better than having the biggest news agency as our partner. We also want to show news agencies are still relevant.”
Reuters has also injected the speed required in mobilizing hot international news stories, Salehian declares. “We don’t have to scramble around to find out what’s going on. We get it before it hits any screen, the type of time advantage only Reuters can give us.”
One would also have thought that, with its legendary reputation and resources, Reuters would have had its own live TV news agency to complement its singular global news gathering operation.
But as Salehian points out: “From Reuters’ point of view, it is much easier to provide this product to its clients because we are already here. It was a very quick way for them to enter the market.”
Tim Santhouse, Reuters’ global head of video products, says: “This is something our clients were increasingly vocal about, wanting this type of service from us with the Reuters stamp on it. But there are very few players in the market that know what they are doing and understand our customer base.”
The business of gathering hard raw news for established broadcasters is not for the spineless. It is costly.
Following consolidation among rivals in the 1990s (that is how Reuters TV, the new online news app, originally began), very few entities have the means to do this job on a global scale. The other handful includes the Eurovision News Exchange, which serves members of the European Broadcasting Union, and Associated Press Television News.
Reuters-TIMA boasts live studio feed from international offices that include stunning backdrops such as London’s skyline. Dedicated offices can also be found in Paris, Washington DC, Rio de Janeiro (in time for the 2016 Olympic Games), plus news bureaus from Tehran to Moscow, and facilities at New York’s Times Square and United Nations building.
Existing and potential clients regularly receive updated diaries of pending events it is scheduled to cover. Following the UK royal birth and Britain’s general election, there is the Venice Film Festival in August, Pope Francis’ visit to the US in September, the 2015 Rugby World Cup in September, and next year’s 58th presidential election in the US.
Ten years ago, the industry was predicting satellite-TV distribution was dying and that everything was going to be on the Internet. But it seems the Internet still does not have the bandwidth to handle the high-definition footage that broadcasters distribute to millions of TV homes worldwide plus the edited versions for multi-platform consumption.