Remote broadcast

Remote broadcast

In broadcast engineering, a remote broadcast (usually just called a remote or a live remote) is broadcasting done from a location away from the regular studio. A remote pickup unit (RPU) is usually used to transmit the audio and/or video back to the station, where it joins the normal airchain. Other methods include satellite trucks, and even regular telephone lines if necessary.


The first airing of a "remote-control" broadcast came in 1924, when Loew's Theater publicist and WHN (New York City) station manager Nils Granlund leased telegraph lines from Western Union to provide the first link in what became called "Cabaret Broadcasting." ["American Babel"; Doerksen, Clifford J.;University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005; Page 32.] By early 1925, Granlund had established remote lines between WHN and more than thirty New York City jazz nightclubs, including the Silver Slipper, The Parody Club, the Cotton Club, the Strand Roof, and Club Moritz.

Nils T. Granlund cited the 1925 WHN airing of Senator James J. Walker's announcement of his New York City mayoral candidacy through a "remote-control" broadcast from the New York Press Club as the first such remote link for a political forum. ["Blondes, Brunettes, and Bullets"; Granlund, Nils T.;Van Rees Press, New York, 1957; Page 102.]

In Latin America, in October 27th 1920 Dr Sussini made the first remote transmission in Argentina from the theatre El Coliseo in Buenos Aires. In Mexico on September 27th, 1921, Adolfo Gomez Fernandez made a transmission from the Teatro Ideal, Mexico DF [ Radio World Magazine, edited in USA, January 2, 2002, page 15]


In radio, remotes are often used for special events, such as concerts or sporting events, where either the entire event or advertisements for the event are broadcast on location. The cost of personnel and equipment is usually paid for by the host at each performance. However, if the event is recurring, such as a weekly broadcast from a nightclub, then dedicated lines are usually installed by the local telephone company in order to save on costs.

Originally, analog audio broadcasts were sent through telephone hybrids, which, although low quality, were found to be acceptable for voice broadcasts. Later, frequency extenders were developed that used additional lines, shifting higher treble audio frequencies down on one end and back up on the other, providing a reasonable reproduction of the original sound. Currently, digital lines, such as ISDN or DSL, are used to send compressed digital audio back to the studio. In addition, modern remote pickup units have become extremely portable and can transmit single-channel monophonic FM-quality audio over regular telephone lines using build-in modems and advanced compression algorithms (MPEG-4, etc.).


In TV, live remotes are an almost daily part of news broadcasts in the U.S. As a part of electronic news gathering (ENG), remotes are meant to bring the audience to the scene of the action, although often nothing directly related to the story is happening there anymore. In some cases live remotes have even taken ridicule, particularly for reporters who stand out in the middle of a hurricane's winds, risking their lives while telling viewers not to do the same.

To get to the scene quickly, a live remote may be done from a helicopter.

Live TV remotes may often be used in a manner similar to radio remotes (and vice versa) as well.


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