Reuters-TIMA Greek Elections Diary

11 Feb 2015

IMG_2568Reuters-TIMA Location Services, which officially launched on February 11th, was on the scene for this year’s general elections in Greece. TIMA’s Operations Coordinator, Samuel Perriman, joined the team in Greece and documented his experience over the 4 days on location.

Samuel is in charge of booking and coordinating a range of TV services for international broadcasters worldwide, as well as being involved in planning and coordinating special events coverage, such as the Greek Elections.  From the initial setup to final results, Samuel’s entries give an in-depth look at exactly what is involved when covering an historic event on location.

23 January

Greece is heading to the polls on Sunday 25th January as the country votes in an election that may have wider consequences for the Eurozone. We arrive in Athens a few days early to set up the Reuters-TIMA live facilities.

The live position is located on Syntagma square, right in the heart of Athens, and the balcony position has a great backdrop of the Greek Parliament building. Due to access restrictions, the uplink dish has to be placed on the opposite side of the square, on top of the Reuters building.

This event has been a good opportunity to try out the new fly-away unit. Packed into 15 flight cases, the system is relatively compact and travels easily. With the help of the rest of the crew, Mark, our engineer, quickly sets up the dish as crowds gathered in the square below for a political rally. We’ll be transmitting live from the balcony in HD and SD and also offering tape playouts on the dual path uplink. All that’s left to do is wait for polls to open on Sunday.

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24 January

With the elections only a day away central Athens is dotted with campaign tents. Brightly coloured banners advertise promises of a brighter future for Greece. Hundreds of journalists and crews have taken up residence along with us on Syntagma square and the surrounding areas.

With threats of a Greek exit from the Eurozone, the world is watching these elections anxiously. Correspondents with a confusing array of accents are stopping Athenians on the streets for soundbites. Having eavesdropped into a few of these vox pops, it seems that the most common answer is that Greeks don’t want to leave the Euro currency zone, but they do want some serious changes in how Greece is handled by it’s bigger European cousins.

We’ll see on Sunday how this sentiment is translated at the polls.

25 January

The polling stations open at 7am and local television show people around the country filing in to cast their ballot in what everyone agrees is a landmark election. Up on the Reuters-TIMA balcony our live bookings go smoothly, with the live kit and uplink dish performing without a hitch.

TVN Poland takes their correspondent live in HD just as the first exit polls in the evening show that the far-left Syriza party have taken a generous share of the vote. The live backdrop looks particularly impressive at night: the parliament building is lit up spectacularly and shadows are cast from the costumed soldiers standing guard outside. All the different tungsten lights could have proven tricky in lighting the talent but luckily we are well equipped with powerful HMI lights that handle the situation well.

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26 January

It’s official. Syriza, the radical left party led by Alexis Tsipras, have won Greece’s general election with 149 seats in the parliament, just short of an absolute majority. The media activity has picked up noticeably in Athens. Live positions are booked and ENG crews are out on the ground filming the reactions on the streets. People have gathered outside the Syriza party tent just round the corner from the Reuters-TIMA position to celebrate.

Media interest for this event has unsurprisingly been from fellow EU countries. The correspondents from channels like TVN Poland and RTV Slovakia report live from the balcony overlooking parliament on how the left-wing victory in Greece could have wider consequences for the EU and its single currency.

There will be plenty to speculate about over the coming days and weeks as Syriza inevitably try to negotiate with the EU but for Reuters-TIMA in Athens it’s time to start packing up. Late that night after our last live booking we pack up the fly-away kit and live position ready for an early morning flight back to London the next day.

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