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  • jim68848

We interrupt the usual blog schedule for a rant!

I'll start with asking everyone to please get off my lawn.......ok, good

I have witnessed the massive decline in professionalism and standards for live TV broadcasts (99% is from various news channels of all biases and leanings).

It starts with many of the on-air personalities themselves lacking overall professionalism around journalism and just reporting the news. If it's an opinion show, I guess that's fine. But at some point, there needs to be straight news and I'm not interested in their personal gestures, comments, biases, facial ticks, etc. So there's that.

What I'm really here to talk about though is audio latency within a live broadcast. We all know that the pandemic causes networks and cable channels to heavily lean on Skype, Zoom, MS Teams, etc to bring in remote hosts, guests, talking heads, etc. In the beginning and during the chaos, it just was what it was and I was thankful that broadband is 'mostly' ubiquitous and that a good chunk of people knew how to use these collaboration tools that many in the corporate world were already getting used to. People talked all over each other and you could see the end users learning the technology in real time. Backgrounds, lighting, audio and picture all mostly improved as the pandemic wore on.

HOWEVER, in 2024 and well downstream from most of that chaos, it is maddening to watch a broadcast with host and speakers talking over each other, long pauses each waiting for the other to speak and seeing distracting huge and hilarious microphone setups that some have adopted. My recent favorite was an interview with two people in one room - each speaking into an external pop screen that was front ending another mic that had a foam windscreen on it. It looked ridiculous but I suppose someone somewhere thought this made things look very professional. I don't even remember who was talking and what they were talking about because I was so distracted with how ridiculous they looked.

OK, back to the main issue. We all know there are various amounts of latency induced into the audio stream depending on but not limited to - broadband speed, QoS (or lack thereof), conversion, router hops, distance etc. So, it's a given that the time will be slightly out of sync between the TV studio and each remote participant that isn't also in a TV studio or pro broadcast facility. Knowing that, there needs to be two things:

  1. Segment producers bringing in talking heads, subject matter experts, etc. MUST make sure that they're dealing with someone competent and explain that their words should be clear and concise and then pause for the host at the studio to respond. If they don't have the equipment and skills, bring them into an affiliate studio, send them a remote crew or DON'T BOOK THEM!

  2. Producers in studio need to do the same with their on-air talent when dealing with remote guests/talkers. There WILL be latency (not unlike being on the satellite for a remote), so try not to talk all over your guests.

I know this is all easier said than done but, when combined with my first comments about professional broadcasters, it really all gets quite unwatchable and further accelerates the circling of the drain that they all seem to be in.

We will return to my usual blog topics in a few weeks! - Jim

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