Associated Press Television News
AP Television News is the video division of the Associated Press. It provides many of the world's broadcasters with a round-the-clock continuous feed of news, sports, entertainment and feature video content. Associated Press Television News Ltd. is a UK corporation owned and controlled by the Associated Press.
Headquartered in North London, AP Television News was founded in 1994 as Associated Press Television or APTV. They moved to their present headquarters in 1999 when APTV bought out competitor Worldwide Television News (WTN) and the WTN building and facilities were deemed more suitable than the existing AP resources.
Since its rebranding in 2005, the APTN name and logo has been dropped in favour of "AP Television News", featuring the red AP logo of the Associated Press to emphasise its connection to the AP. However, many broadcasters still refer to the television organization as APTN.
APTN distributes video to its client broadcasters around the world, mostly by satellite. Many major broadcasters and networks rely heavily upon APTN for major breaking news from around the world. The company also provides specialised "Broadcast Services" for its clients, such as editing, crewing or satellite feeds from news and sports events. Historical footage is also made available from its extensive film and video archives, which date back to 1895. It includes the film and video archives of onetime AP rival UPI's longtime newsfilm service United Press International Television News, which was the original agency that became WTN.
APTN is based in North London (in a former gin warehouse on the Regent's Canal called "The Interchange" because its original function was to interchange freight between the canal and rail systems) with bureaus in 85 cities and 79 nations, including New York City, Washington D.C., Paris, Rome and Moscow; as well as current-event regions such as Iraq and Afghanistan. It uses fibre-optic and satellite-based distribution networks to relay video footage to TV networks and newsrooms. (Broadcasters based in London receive the APTN video feed by local terrestrial circuits, known as "local ends," via the BT Tower.
Use of video
Video news agencies such as APTN (and Reuters TV) typically do not produce programmes that TV owners could watch. Rather, they provide footage of an event with only natural sound and very loose editing. However, APTN does also produce a range of entertainment and special interest programmes that are provided as white-label products for client use. Agency customers, who are local and national TV stations, documentary producers, cable television news channels, and the like, edit the agency footage to suit their style, and add their own graphics and voice-overs before transmission.
The premise for a video news agency is simple: very few TV stations devote enough money to newsgathering to put hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of camera, editing, and satellite transmission equipment everywhere that news might happen. Video news agencies provide rapid response coverage and international reach for those TV stations.
The agency obtains footage from their own camera crews, arrangements with local TV broadcasters to redistribute their material, material shot by freelancers who sell their footage to the agencies, and on rare occasions footage shot by the public (such as the famous footage of the 2000 crash of an Air France Concorde outside Paris and the hijacked Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961, which ditched off the Comoros Islands in 1996) Footage shot with broadcast-quality cameras is preferred, but quality can sometimes come second to content or immediacy for an exclusive story.
The maintenance of a network of local bureaux by the agencies means that local staff with expert knowledge are on hand to capture footage in places where Western camera crews could be in danger. An example of this is the Kosovo War in Serbia during which most journalists left the country prior to the NATO bombing campaign. In addition, TV reporters who often do not have the budgets or expertise to carry with a full satellite uplink are able to use the local agency bureaux. AP Television News has a department called "Broadcast Services" which specialises in providing on site production and transmission facilities either through the AP bureaux infrastructure or at breaking or set-piece news events. APTN managed to get a satellite dish and transmission gear into Banda Aceh, Indonesia, following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake before the region was closed to air traffic. This became just about the only live video feed point available for the world's media, and was used extensively by network reporters for transmitting their recorded reports, or going "live" on air into their news bulletins.
Wherever you see the same footage on more than one news station, the chances are that it came either from or via a video news agency.
Public relations services
APTN's corporate services division produces and distributes video news releases (VNRs), video-form press release designed for use on broadcast television, for businesses' public relations campaigns. APTN offers this service despite concern among journalists about some news broadcasters relying on VNR material for their news budgets instead of broadcasting their own original reporting.
APTN's contributions to world news coverage include live coverage of the Beslan school hostage crisis for which it won the 2005 International Emmy for TV News Coverage, and coverage of French nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific, foiled suicide bombings in Israel, the return of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China, and of the death of Pope John Paul II.