Seeking the truth in a time of uncertainty

By Peter Mayhead, Pebble Beach Systems

Subscribe to NewscastStudio's newsletter for the latest in broadcast design and engineering delivered to your inbox.

It is absolutely essential for the public to be able to tell fact from fiction in the current climate. Fake stories are circulating so rapidly that media organizations including the BBC are issuing videos debunking common myths. At the start of the outbreak miracle cures such as eating garlic and sipping water every 15 minutes were spreading across social media, and such misinformation is downright dangerous when it can lead to the further spread of infection or worse. Recently a man in the US sadly died after consuming a chemical that has been touted as a cure for the virus online.

The need for reliable news sources is higher than ever. In the UK, the NHS is working to combat fake news regarding the virus by creating verified social media accounts in order to prevent the spread of misinformation, but social media is such a minefield of conflicting information at the moment that, unsurprisingly, the public is turning to our trusted broadcasters for clarity. 

Because of the severity of the issue, it is of course essential for consumers to receive accurate, reliable, information. This is driving eyeballs back to regulated news broadcasters according to a YouGov poll, where pre-virus confidence levels sat at around 44% compared to social media at only 12%. When the issue at hand is life and death, like the coronavirus pandemic, it becomes a necessity to seek out facts rather than opinions. Up to 10 million Brits have been watching the government’s daily addresses as we desperately seek information on how to proceed, the Guardian reports. And audiences peaked at a reported 27 million for the initial announcement of the UK lockdown – making it one of the most-watched broadcasts in UK history.

In testing times, the public relies on our trusted broadcasters for live information and updates as they happen.  Whilst social media and streaming are also undoubtedly experiencing a surge, audiences are turning to broadcast television in record numbers for relevant, reliable, quality content in a time of fear and uncertainty. And in turn, broadcasters are approaching the technology vendor community with new challenges, requiring the rapid deployment of solutions to enable them to cope with this new reality. Whether it’s remote configuration to add functionality, the issuing of new licenses to enable home working, or upgrades to systems to cater for additional services during this health crisis, the vendor and end-user communities are pulling together like never before to ensure that the public can continue to stay informed.

About Peter Mayhead, Pebble Beach Systems

Peter Mayhead is the CEO of Pebble Beach Systems. Since its formation in 2000, Pebble Beach Systems has grown to become a world leader in the highly specialized and mission-critical field of broadcast automation. Designed around a modular and scalable architecture, our automation solutions are highly configurable and robust. Ideally suited to multi-channel playout as well as high pressure live programming environments such as news or sports, they offer interfaces to legacy equipment and also support new formats and technologies such as IP delivery and interactive television.