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Technology Gave CNN Live Images of Departure


The live images broadcast by CNN as the detained crew members of the U.S. spy plane boarded a civilian airliner to leave China illustrate the innovative capabilities available for broadcast journalism using new satellite technologies.

The broadcast used a standard television camera hooked up to a videophone about the size of an attache case. The device can transmit a compressed video image through a satellite phone system, which links up with a telecommunications satellite orbiting the Earth.

The systems are popular with researchers who must transmit large amounts of data from the field, mariners trying to stay in touch with loved ones and companies that need to videoconference from remote locations. They are built for desolate locations and often require ingenuity on the part of their users.

For the China broadcast, the CNN team powered their equipment using their car batteries before local police chased the journalists away.

Parisa Khosravi, a senior vice president for CNN and managing editor for international news gathering, said such systems let journalists broadcast from remote locations with comparative ease.

"The last time we used it like this was the earthquake in India. We were broadcasting live from the epicenter in hours. It was six days before any other kind of dish was able to get in there."

The video was transmitted from China at a top speed of 64 kilobytes per second, a little faster than a standard computer modem of 56 kilobytes per second. Newer systems allow several such pipelines to be linked together, allowing for higher-quality pictures.

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