Reuters camera position on a rooftop in Taipei
Live camera position at the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial
Inmarsat A satellite telephone
I worked as a television engineer for Reuters news agency for a few years in the 1990s. I lived in Japan and travelled to breaking news stories in Asia.
Generally, it is cheaper for stations to send just a reporter and cameraman abroad, then hire location editing and satellite uplinks from an international company like Reuters. Typically Reuters would have 15 or 20 client stations on a location special like this.
Reuters provided a live camera position at the Chiang Kai Shek memorial in Taipei, which client stations used for live interviews with their own reporters.
Outgoing pictures and sound were transmitted via a two hop microwave link to a Reuters "flyaway" satellite earth station in another part of Taipei, then uplinked to the Panamsat 2 satellite over the Pacific Ocean.
Onward routing then depended where in the world the client was located. To reach Sky News, for example, signals were downlinked in California, routed to Washington DC by fibre, onpassed to London via a full time Reuters "Brightstar" lease on an Intelsat satellite, received at Reuters London master control room then passed to Sky on fibre via BT Tower.
Incoming audio communications were received via an Inmarsat A satellite telephone, manufactured sometime in the 1980s. The satphone was the size of a large suitcase and just as heavy. It ran off a small petrol generator. The antenna (pictured) was a glorified umbrella which unfurled and had to be pointed to a satellite somewhere over the Indian Ocean.