Webcasting the G20 London Summit

On 2 April, world leaders from the G20 group of rich and emerging economies met in London at arguably the most important political summit since the end of the Second World War.

The Group of Twenty—industrial powerhouses including Brazil, China, Germany and the US representing 85% of the world’s economies—agreed to forge a coordinated response to the global recession. Adding to its historic significance was the presence of US President Barack Obama, making his first overseas visit since his inauguration.

Hosting its first G20 summit was always going to be a high-profile project for the British government but the pressure of providing for over 30 news-hungry broadcasters and in excess of 2,000 print, video, and radio journalists with access to proceedings against an ultra-tight security background added to the challenge. To manage press needs while balancing security considerations, the UK government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) arranged for comprehensive host broadcast coverage of the entire 25-hour event, accessible free to any news agency, and a unique webcast to the websites of embassies in 35 countries.

Produced by London-based streaming media specialists FlyOnTheWall, which lists BNP Paribas, Bank of America and Lloyds of London among its clients, the webcast combined live and VoD content.

Key to its successful broadcast and web communication was the synchronised response of a number of different organisations. St Albans, UK-based Feltech was handed overall responsibility having previously been contracted by the FCO to provide facilities for the UK’s Presidency of The European Union in 1998 and 2005’s G8 at Gleneagles.

“The sheer size of the event was the biggest challenge,” explains Feltech Managing Director Peter Fell. “We knew there would be considerably more interest in this G20 than ever before and therefore considerable pressure to deliver. While a lot of press attention was on President Obama, our main responsibility was to ensure an equal editorial balance of all attending heads of state for the core multilateral broadcast feed.”

Within ExCel, the East London venue, Feltech created the Pool Channel coverage of the event using an OB truck hired from CTV housing two EVS servers with a combined storage capacity of 2.5 terabytes, a main GVG Kalypso 4ME vision mixer backed up by a GVG Kayak 1ME, and 17 Sony HDC-1500 cameras.

Feltech also constructed 150 TV edit suites, 40 radio edit suites and ten radio studios for use by other broadcasters onsite. An additional three ‘stand-up’ positions were allocated for on-air interviews or presenter-led pieces bookable by individual broadcasters.

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