Skip to main content

15-16 May 2024
Olympia London

23 Oct 2020

Covid-19 accelerated BBC News’ remote working

Morwen Williams
The pandemic has provided the impetus for a far more connected and flexible news operation, says Morwen Williams

If there’s one thing the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us in broadcasting, it’s the need to work more flexibly, enabling staff with the right tools to be able to work from wherever they need to: on location, in the office or at home.

Furthermore, Covid-19 has made us more reliant on automated vision mixing and delivery in our TV studios, to allow social distancing for our teams.

In BBC News, we already had plans and ambitions to create a more remote-capable, connected newsroom. Prior to the pandemic, we’d launched our online planning and deployment tool, Wolftech, and this helped as our teams went into lockdown, quickly having to transition to working from home.

Wolftech is technology that’s helped us all work together more closely. We can co-ordinate teams, share stories and react more quickly.

Lockdown meant that effective collaboration tools were essential, to enable people to produce the news together – to work on their content at the same time but in different locations. At one stage, we had an international story being worked on three different continents at the same time.

However, we found some of our core production tools didn’t perform quite so well away from the building. Going forward, everything needs to be more cloud-based. The ability to work anywhere, any place, any time, without so much dependency on our existing infrastructure, is the real prize to enable us to keep on delivering for our audiences.

Video content sharing, an image management tool, cloud editing and connected cameras with the ability for producers to remotely access video from the field were all in the pipeline.

Through necessity, Covid has sped up some of this. Throughout lockdown and when we emerged from it, we needed to take the opportunity to reshape the model we had, which was mainly building and vehicle-based.

Remote production and the delivery of some programming from homes was stepped up, from the obvious – with on-air presenters at home both on radio and TV – to the ‘you’d never know’, with us remotely directing a social broadcast for our Vietnamese service via VMix from one of the team’s home.

We are now looking for more opportunities for remote production of ‘live’ events, as many of the autumn and winter schedules of the usual party conferences and events like the World Economic Forum will look very different.

Innovation was rife among our teams: rising to the challenges of how we keep doing high-quality broadcasting for our audiences at a time when people needed news more than ever; and how we keep those audiences entertained, enlightened and still involved with our broadcasting while keeping people safe. We developed a suite of virtual production tools that solved the issues of recording multiple contributors in quality for radio and TV. We also returned the live audience to some of our much-loved radio shows.

BBC News camera crews had to grapple with the difficult task of trying to set up interviews via many different consumer messaging apps when we couldn’t get to our guests in person. Recording the output from these for BBC News content was equally challenging. Our team devised and built a system quickly to meet that challenge and create one workflow for our newsgathering teams. 

In our TV studios, we have relied more on automation, which is needed for social distancing in our galleries. Throughout this pandemic, our vision mixing has been automated for news – and that’s something we will continue to do for many of our programmes.

Some of these changes mentioned are here to stay. Necessity drove us to deliver new workflows more swiftly than any of us could have imagined a year ago. Opportunity will enable us to take that to the next level.

View all Industry News

Best Places to Work in Broadcast Media Technology

Exhibitors Include:





  • It’s the best show I’ve ever been to, to be honest, I think you guys have done an incredible job. It’s really packed, there’s a very broad selection of people here.
    James Burstall
  • MPTS is an important event in our fast-paced, changing industries. A great place for minds and technology to come together, learn, interact, explore and create for the future.
    Carly Paradis
  • My first time attending MPTS 2023 and I was blown away at how much was on offer - from the exhibitions to the seminars, not to forget all the attendees who gave it a great atmosphere and fantastic networking opportunity. Will definitely be back next year.
    Jahreal Wright
    Sky Production Services
  • It’s been our first time exhibiting at MPTS and we will definitely be coming back. The quality of the customers and panels was perfect for us.
    Dawn Bochenski
  • MPTS 2023 was a tremendous opportunity to not only catch up with colleagues, but meet so many enthusiastic new faces and have the opportunity to share insights, knowledge and debate about the future of tech in the creative economy
    Dr Jodi Nelson-Tabor
    Final Pixel Academy
  • We had a great time at the show this year at MPTS, I think the interest in cloud production has significantly increased in the last twelve months and we saw a lot of traction with customers and people looking at solutions in transforming the way that live TV is being produced. So we've got a great partnership
    Gareth Capon
  • MPTS has been really wonderful, it is great to see how much the show has expanded this year. In my opinion, it just seems to be getting better and better every year and I can’t wait to see what next year brings
    Lexie Morgan
    HHB Communications
  • I think the panel discussions here are of huge benefit to everyone that comes, especially freelancers and maybe students wanting to work in this industry. The hot topics that are affecting everybody in their jobs o its quite a unique day out, and its free
    Ria Hebden
    TV Presenter & Broadcaster
  • A truly brilliant event. It was absolutely buzzing with excitement, innovations, and incredibly interesting and insightful stories. With sessions ranging from sustainability to virtual production, XR, the talent gap, and accessibility and inclusion in production, it’s become the UK media and tech show to attend for anything content creation and should not be missed.
    Amisa Saar-Stout
  • It was great to meet with customers, partners, and prospects in the heart of the UK M&E community, demonstrating how LucidLink enables remote collaboration from anywhere in the world. MPTS 2023 was a huge success for us, and experiencing professional ‘white glove’ treatment from all the show staff, just made my job that much easier
    Julie O'Grady
  • We get to see a lot of customers, we get to talk about what their plans are for the next year, we get to see all of our resellers as well, it’s a really important day for us
    Simon Sherbourne
  • I find myself among people like me who love new technology and love the potential of what we can do
    LJ Rich
    Presenter and Broadcaster
  • Of all the trade shows that Argosy participates in, MPTS represents the greatest return on investment for us, by far!
    Chris Smeeton