BBC Miami correspondent Fergal Parkinson was the corporation’s first journalist to file a report over the internet as the US was in a state of alert over anthrax.
Parkinson’s report on the reaction in Florida to the anthrax threat was broadcast on BBC Breakfast last week, and he has since filed further reports for BBC World.
"It’s very exciting to be involved in something new like this, it’s got to be the way forward," said Parkinson, who moved to Miami in August. "It means that from now on people like me only need a laptop, a phone line and a power source to send back reports from various parts of the world without satellite or line booking." For the past six months, freelance shoot/editor Paul Hemingfield has been developing the system that enabled the report to be sent as a digital file within 40 minutes. It was then converted to video at BBC TV Centre after it was tested for viruses.
"We were told that the pictures for Breakfast were more than acceptable," said Hemingfield. "The stuff that comes from the US is usually pretty rubbish because it has gone through so many conversion processes."
The BBC claims it is the first UK broadcaster to use this technique successfully. As it costs just a fraction of the £500 needed to send the same report via a satellite, Parkinson said the new technology would enable him to file reports more regularly.
"With all that’s going on in the US at the moment, satellite feeds and line bookings are at a premium, so it’s an ideal time to try it out," said Parkinson.
The BBC said that the system would be used more widely in the future.
"Now we’ve tested it live and it works, we can see endless possibilities," said technology manager Mark Tyrell, adding: "And the crucial thing was, the quality was superb."
By Julie Tomlin