Belfast Community TV Airs First Live, On-location Broadcast

From the Republican Journal, Belfast, Maine By Ethan Andrews

Belfast, Maine — On Halloween night, Ned Lightner, the do-it-all director of Belfast Community Television Channel 2, set up a camera along the notorious trick-or-treaters' corridor, Cedar Street in Belfast, Maine.

Lightner was dressed in yellow foul-weather gear and a sou'wester and as the camera rolled he proceeded to interview a line of people in costume. It was a lot like many of the shows he airs on the local public-access station. The difference was, this time — for the first time — it was live on location.

For as long as Lightner has been broadcasting, live broadcasts could be done in one of two ways: in the studio or using a satellite transmission truck. Broadcasters were either bound to the studio or forced to cough up thousands of dollars to rent a truck and buy a few hours on a satellite channel.

The Internet is beginning to offer a third option. For the Cedar Street broadcast, Lightner's camera was connected to a laptop via a device the size of a pack of gum that converts the camera's signal.

A resident granted Lightner permission to use his home wireless signal, and from the laptop, Lightner was able to upload the live feed to the Internet.

Back at the BC-TV studio, a different device was pulling the Web stream and broadcasting it on cable TV channel 2. The process created a delay of around 30 seconds, but it was essentially a live broadcast. Better still, the whole setup cost around $1,200 and fits in a backpack.

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