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<nettime> [Fwd: [MediaAct] Army to provide its own 'news' feeds to local
Sasha Costanza-Chock on Thu, 1 Jul 2004 19:44:26 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> [Fwd: [MediaAct] Army to provide its own 'news' feeds to local TV]


Army sends media imagery from Iraq at push of button

[from US Army Public Affairs]

No longer will the media in small towns nationwide need to wait for CNN or
FOX to get news from Iraq. They can now do it themselves.

This week, the Army launched a $6.3 million project called the Digital
Video and Imagery Distribution System, a system that allows Army news
crews in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan  called Mobile Public Affairs
Detachments  to beam text, photos and footage to a "teleport" in Atlanta.

DVIDS users in the states, ranging from the civilian media to military
personnel seeking to acquire information from the field, will then be able
to acquire the real-time, broadcast-quality products from a centralized,
archived database via the satellite feed. Or, if they want to conduct live
press briefings or interviews, they can request it, officials said.

The service is free.

The principle benefit of the system, said Col. Rick Thomas, public affairs
officer for Third Army, based at Fort McPherson, Ga., is to provide
deployed commanders and concerned groups the ability to keep in touch with
each other, whether through press briefings, interviews or other medium.

"The speed is the critical thing," said Lt. Col. Will Beckman, thepublic
affairs officer in charge of the project for Third U.S. Army. "There's
nothing new in this, we can just do it much, much faster and at greater

Additional benefits include "enhancing the quality of the products and the
ability to distribute those products both internally and externally," said

Anyone can sign up for the service, but requests for high-quality
broadcast video can only be sent through fiber optic wire or a domestic
digital satellite. "We don't do tapes, we don't do CDs," said Beckman. Any
requestor looking for more than still images or print would have to have a
satellite downlink capability or a fiber wire.

Once on the system's distribution list, clients will have access to"pretty
much anything in the archives," said Beckman.

They will also receive "daily bulletins and e-mail alerts forfast-breaking
stories," reported the DVIDS Web site, www.dvidshub.net.

"Our responses with the media have been very, very good," said Beckman.
"Over time, however, the product will prove itself."

Before the system's launch, it had received flak for being a conduit of
propaganda. Thomas equated the negativism with that of critics of
embedding media prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

DVIDS, Thomas said, is "another tool that news [organizations] can usefrom
which to pull products to support ongoing news. It is not an attempt to
offer anything more than what we've provided so far."

The system currently uses six portable KU-band satellite transmitters
positioned with Army public affairs units in austere environments like
Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan to get the products out, said Thomas.

"The band used in the satellite is different than those being used byother
organizations," Thomas said.

Eventually, more transmitters will be needed, Beckman said. "The appetite
is growing. When the appetite grows, we're going to need more capability."

The system arose out of a plan to standardize broadcast equipment being
used in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The military wanted
a more consistent way to get news stories to the states and began studying
the Norsat NewsLink 3200 satellite system from Norsat International,
Thomas said.

"Equipment-wise, it was pretty bad," said Beckman about Operation Iraqi
Freedom. "The chokepoint was the inability to transmit video products."

The technology afforded by the Canadian tech company's Norsat NewsLink3200
system, already being used by the Coalition Press Information Center in
Baghdad, looked promising, Beckman said. It allowed the Army to transmit
high-quality broadcast pieces quickly. The Army then began constructing
the DVIDS system.

The six deployed Mobile Public Affairs Detachments, or MPADs, currently
using DVIDS each have portable news-gathering technology, including Sony
PD 170 camcorders, a Nikon D2H still camera, laptop computer with Avid
Express DV editing software. These MPADs include the 139th MPAD in Mosul,
Iraq, based out of Springfield, Ill.; the Washington State National
Guard's122nd MPAD in Baghdad, Iraq; the 204th MPAD in Baghdad, Iraq, at
the CPIC there; the 196th MPAD in Tikrit, Iraq, from the 1st Infantry
Division; and the Kansas Army National Guard's 105th MPAD, in Afghanistan.

While the system was supported and funded by the U.S. Army, it is to be
used by all services of the Department of Defense.

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