Iraqi camera crews praised at RTS Awards

The audience at the Royal Television Society (RTS) Journalism Awards were shown an exclusive live satellite link-up with Iraqi camera operators gathered at the BBC Bureau in Bagdad, who were honoured with the judges' award.

The award, normally given to an individual or production team, this year honoured all Iraqi cameramen working for western journalists at "extraordinary risk" to themselves.

To protect the personal safety of the cameraman, the images will not be broadcast elsewhere.

It was a disappointing night in the award stakes for the BBC, which scooped just three prizes, with Channel 4 and ITV each receiving five.

Sky News beat BBC News 24 to news channel of the year, winning a total of three awards. The channel's former chief, Nick Pollard, was honoured with the lifetime achievement award.

The judges said: "In his 10 years running Sky News, he transformed the channel."

Sky's Dominic Waghorn found himself on stage twice — once to collect television journalist of the year and again to receive the international news prize for a report on baby-snatching in China.

Accepting his award, Waghorn said: "This means an enormous amount to me. It can be fiendishly difficult working in China so this makes what we achieved all the more worthwhile."

The RTS's first scoop of the year award was presented to ITN — which received a total of seven awards — for its Charles Kennedy exclusive on the ITV evening news which forced him to face the uncomfortable truth about his problem with alcohol.

Mark Wood, chief executive of ITN, said: "ITN has had another outstanding year. Our teams continue to deliver news coverage for ITV and Channel 4 that is rigorous and compelling for viewers.

"These awards recognise the talent, determination and flair of our news teams who work in a commercial environment and unfailingly deliver high standards of journalism."

BBC's Jeremy Paxman was beaten to presenter of the year by Channel 4's Jon Snow, but BBC East won a nations and regions award and Darren Conway took camera operator of the year.

However, the BBC's Panorama beat Channel 4's Dispatches in the home current affairs award for its exposé on the bail hostel scandal.

Dispatches didn't walk away empty handed, scooping the award for innovation and multimedia for its series of short films on the soldiers serving in Iraq, "War Torn – Stories of Separation".

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