A challenge for broadcasters during the election campaign thatâ€™s now well underway â€“ the next UK general election takes place on May 6, in just under four weeksâ€™ time â€“ is controlling their broadcasts in terms of what you see on screen and the message being conveyed.
Take a look at this screenshot from a news broadcast at lunchtime today:
Thatâ€™s the BBCâ€™s Chief Political Correspondent Laura Kuenssberg reporting on events today among the campaigning politicians.
The interesting thing about this image is the blue poster just behind her right shoulder. Itâ€™s a protest banner someone is holding aloft at just the right position and angle to be in the lens capture area of the TV camera. There was another one just before that, behind her left shoulder, with a similar protest message.
Iâ€™ve noticed such things before, which shows how easy it can be to get your message on national TV (global TV, if you count the fact that much broadcast content is or will be on the internet at some point in some form, either original or mashed up) if youâ€™re savvy enough to figure out things like angles and positions. And have the brass to get in position with your message.
Other than zoom the camera in tightly so as to keep out any undesired images, what can a broadcaster do when broadcasting from public areas and where you canâ€™t really prevent anyone from doing anything thatâ€™s legal?
Choose a better position, perhaps. Do your outside broadcast in a place where you can exercise control over whatâ€™s in your camera view. Maybe do it all in the studio in front of a green screen and build-in the desired background: TV does this all the time. Difficult to work for live TV, though (but I bet someone solves that one soon).
Or recognize that you canâ€™t control your message any more. At least, not the channel conveying that message.
What would you suggest?