Report: RTÉ's biggest live events

Report: RTÉ's biggest live events

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The Republic of Ireland’s April event heard how RTÉ covered two of its biggest ever live events in 2016: the general election in Ireland and the state commemoration of the centenary of the Easter Rising.

The Centre welcomed John O’Regan and Margaret Bennett, RTÉ’s executive producers for current affairs special events, who were closely involved in the planning and broadcast of the two events.

Election 2016, a marathon 17-hour broadcast at the end of February, marked a significant first for Irish television, as RTÉ broadcast live pictures from every single count in the country. It was also RTÉ’s first high-definition general election results broadcast.

O’Regan explained how RTÉ designed and built a results centre in one of its biggest TV studios, featuring high-end TV graphics to interpret results shaped by Ireland’s proportional representation system.

More than 400 RTÉ and contract staff were deployed across the counts and in three TV studios at its Donnybrook base. RTÉ engineers built two separate broadcast hubs, allowing a team of senior producers to broadcast result declarations and live contributions from 40 multi-member constituencies.

John O’Regan and Margaret Bennett

One month later in March, RTÉ mounted one of its biggest-ever outside broadcast operations to broadcast live coverage of the commemoration ceremony and parade in Dublin marking the centenary of the 1916 Rising.

For RTÉ, the coverage presented editorial challenges of content and tone. It also involved logistical discussions, months of detailed planning and a complex live broadcast on the day.

RTÉ deployed 30 cameras throughout Dublin, delivering live and recorded feeds from TV units at key locations in the city such as Dublin Castle and O’Connell Street, as well as studio coverage from Donnybrook and aerial shots of the parade.

The RTÉ live feed was delivered to international and domestic news media outlets, including CNN, the BBC, Russia Today and UTV Ireland, while an online feed was provided free to Irish newspapers. Pictures were also fed to large TV screens across Dublin city centre, where hundreds of thousands of people gathered to watch the commemorations. 

More than 120 editorial and technical staff worked on the Easter Sunday coverage, making it the biggest TV broadcast deployment for a state event since the visits of Queen Elizabeth and President Obama in 2011.