The day broadcasters forgot competition and rivalries

Broadcasters described an unprecedented level of co-operation between the networks in the aftermath of the devastating terrorist attacks.

As TV networks cleared their schedules on Tuesday to show live coverage, news networks in the US and the UK were agreeing access to footage, which meant images of the unfolding tragedy were beamed around the world.

Sky News used footage from its sister station Fox News and ITN was able to use its links with Reuters, CNN and NBC. BBC pictures were used by public service broadcasters in Pakistan, New Zealand and Latin America, while ITN’s EuroNews coverage was beamed to Russia ahead of schedule.

CNN footage was used by the US networks and by broadcasters in the UK, including Sky News, which used film from Kabul in Afghanistan, where CNN correspondent Nick Robinson was present when news of an explosion broke.

Chris Cramer, president of CNN International Networks, said the level of co-operation was "unprecedented".

"We’ve agreed to share the material because it doesn’t seem appropriate at times like this to crow about who got what first," said Cramer, who added that the level of shock at CNN’s HQ after the tragedy was "extraordinary".

"If Oklahoma stopped people in their tracks, then with this they have atrophied," he said.

BBC and ITN were jointly holding talks with the aviation authorities in a bid to get back-up teams to the US, as the correspondents based there had been reporting around the clock.

Richard Tait, ITN’s editor-in-chief, said: "While everyone wants to do the best they can and hopes that people will watch their coverage, it’s inappropriate when dealing with such a scale of human tragedy to be point-scoring. It seems more sensible that we co-operate to make sure we can get more journalists out there." With the US effectively sealed off, the BBC’s George Alagiah and senior correspondent Ben Brown and ITN’s Andrea Catherwood and Mark Austin were among those on standby at Stansted Airport while news chiefs negotiated clearance for a plane.

But with room for 80 people, Roger Mosey, BBC head of TV news, said that plans to send out programme anchors such as Jeremy Bowen and Jeremy Paxman could be dropped in order to send out more reporters.

"Patrick O’Connell, our business presenter, and New York correspondent Jane Standley are there and have done some great live packages, but they have already had to service a number of outlets for 24 hours," said Mosey. "With a limited number of spaces, we are having to think carefully about who to send."

By Julie Tomlin

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