Mark Bell's picture
Mark Bell, President
Phone, toll free: 1-UR-SAFE-6090
Facsimile: (781)394-0762
Editor/Publisher - ENG Safety Newsletter
(photo courtesy of Michigan Assoc. of Broadcasters.)

    Mark Bell has been in various technical support roles during his 30+ years of work in television engineering/broadcasting. He worked on  on the conversion of Emerson College's television facility from black and white to color in the early 70's, then was involved on the first Boston based CBS News ENG crew in the mid 70's. Bell then worked in a TV station as an operations, then maintenance technician, and branched out on his own as a freelance technician in 1982, one of Boston's first. In that same year, Bell attended the NPPA NewsVideo Workshop to optimize his understanding of the techniques the Workshop is so famous for.
    In circumstances similar to that of so many others, Mark's career direction changed. He moved into areas which allowed him to become experienced in ENG as ENG trucks were being modified from the first primitive "tilt-up Goldenrod mast" vehicles to the sophisticated vehicles of today. Mark was also a pioneer in satellite broadcasting, operating early model satellite uplink vehicles, some on 40 foot tractor-trailers used for C-band event uplinking. His work also helped launch many corporate networks in the original Ku-band days. He developed techniques and created protocols for many first time satellite transmissions from all over the US for entertainment, sports, corporate programming and news information transmission.
    Mark's ability to perform equipment maintenance is another area of accomplishment he brings to the industry.  He still serves as a contributor to the great Television Broadcast magazine, now Digital Television, where his articles regarding many notable parts of our industry appear monthly. His four part series on ENG Safety in 1994, which exposed the need for safety training, is one of his more recognized accomplishments.
    In 1995, he was named a faculty member of the well regarded National Press Photographers Association News Video Workshop in Oklahoma.
    In 1996 Bell investigated and published information regarding premature headwear in broadcast VCR's which prompted the Sony Corporation to also investigate the issue, leading to massive product and warranty reforms.
    In 1997, after being promoted to Contributing Editor of Television Broadcast, he was the lead editor of the most comprehensive ENG safety report published to date; this time as a cover story and separate section in the October Television Broadcast. Bell was also given the honor of an invitation to his first LEVA (Law Enforcement and Emergency Services Video Association) Conference, presenting information on equipment maintenance.
    1998 brought forth the NPPA's eight page ENG Safety publication, "Look up and Live" set for distribution to over 12,000 readers. It is the largest single mass distribution of safety material ever in the broadcast industry. Bell commented: "The importance of this large scale distribution is even with the importance of potentially life and business destroying ENG accidents which safety training helps avoid. There has yet to be a serious accident involving a properly trained and certified ENG operator, which means all incidents were somewhat destined to occur."
    1999 brought forth the birth of ENG SAFETY NEWSLETTER, a new and comprehensive means of educating and reminding all station employees about ENG Safety.
    In 2000, Bell added the ENG Safety Memo to the ENG Safety Newsletter. The memo is for those who already have a monthly newsletter and want a safety supplement, or would like a one-page sheet to post on a bulletin board.  Bell also started technical writing work under another company name, Technically Write!. He also shared in the "Award of Merit" from "Media Communications Association International"  for co-writing and co-producing (as well as appearing in) the most widely distributed safety videotape in broadcasting, "Safety is Good News," produced with Carissa Vanitzian of Phoenix's public power utility, "Salt River Project."
    2001 brought more of the same with presentations, papers, and keeping up with the 120+ subscriptions to the newsletter and memo. It's estimated that more than 3000 people read the newsletter each month, and well over 5000 have seen the awareness presentation! Bell spent a great deal of time presenting the safety message to all of the ABC Network O & O stations as part of an safety drive through their insurance carrier, CNA/RSKCo. The program was successful in getting the message to those behind the scenes in the newsroom, producers and desk folks, and expanded the scope of those included to reporters and anchors, who occasionally get out in the field for assignment. Many stated that they were happy to have received the safety awareness information.
    2002 has had its share of accidents, with 2 reported lightning strikes to ENG crews during the early summer mixed in with the typical mast topplings from clearance accidents or driving with the mast elevated, and some mast being raised in the wrong spots. More people than ever write Bell through the website for safety information, and station managers have been pleasantly responsive to his (and their employees) safety efforts at many stations.  The web name has also been purchased for use in the news truck safety info business by Mark Bell, and is linked to this page.
    2002 also brought forth one of the largest honors for Bell's work, as California passed legislation for training and equipping of news vehicles. Bell attended numerous historic hearings where manufacturers, lawmakers and safety officials met with members of California's safety standards board and had specific input into the rationale and creation of the now-signed-into law regulations. Bell's teachings are quoted in some passages of the law.
    At the end of 2002 and into 2003, Bell worked on the FAA's mandate for 100% baggage screening at US Airports, working as an on-the-job trainer/assessor of baggage screeners. He also attained expertise in equipment used for baggage screening. During this time he learned about terrorism, protocol with the general public when it comes to security measures, and a high level of security screening.
   July 2003 kicked off the 5th year of the ENG safety newsletter and pdf distribution of the successful monthly safety reminder.
   2004 brought forth both the surprise and honor of being named in the acknowledgment of Jonathan Higgins' book "Introduction to SNG and ENG Microwave for his contributions to the book.

    2005 was a slow year,  and that's a good thing in the safety business. There was one terrible fatality in Texas that resulted in sanctions to one station and stories from the reporter who escaped the incident ringing through the industry as her call for safer practices goes on. So far, as of Thanksgiving, it's been a thankful year as crews and managers are hearing and heeding the messages of safety. The work goes on, and the ENG Safety Newsletter is still read by as many, or more than before, and the seminars are still popular. On and on we go!!
    2006 to 2009 were years of an amazing quest by Bell to continue his safety work and move forward in dealing with terrible issues within the State of Massachusetts. We've had three (3) Speakers of the House of Representatives removed from office because of their corruption, and the court system, similar to others in the US, and, seemingly, around the world, has gotten out of hand. Go to to see the global view of this, and issues that have challenged Bell. Go to (very long with 30 pages of substantiating addenda) to see the story of the virtual kidnapping of his daughter Kelsey by his ex-spouse and her family that includes a corrupt court clerk. shows one recent case of the harassment he's undergone as false charges again, plague his existence. details more. On and on it goes.  (Bell does not enjoy advertising all of this to his professional community, but silence is the perpetualization of this evil.... There were those who told Bell he'd never create a safer broadcast industry...Sony would never change their heads, and on and on....Please write with your suggestions if you feel there are better ways to deal with this.) Bent on improving the system, Bell has taken up various causes to bring issues to the forefront that may enable those in government to improve tough situations that affect people in and outside of the state.
    The safety newsletter has been strong, and safety watches throughout the industry remain very vigilant, with only a few minor accidents reported. As technology is changing. more and more people are coming into the industry with knowledge of the procedures that will protect life and property, as well as how to get the news on the air as the quicker-than-ever demand for instant coverage has become the norm.
    2010 and 2011 - remains strong, and the ENG Safety Newsletter maintains a solid subscription base despite numerous stations sharing resources or simply stopping their news operations.  Presentations are also still requested, but hassles of air travel are simply burdens and the largest individual expense for any seminar trip.  In 2011 and into the future will be researching web-based presentations for reduced price in a more convenient forum and time schedule.

     In 2011 and 2012 Bell was active with safety research for the newest development in ENG, live journalism via backpack transmission, thus giving birth to the term PNG for Pedestrian News Gathering...doing it on one's feet, recorded, or live. Bell also was active teaching MA drivers courses to improve their driving attitudes on behalf of the National Safety Council as well as working in areas of  property inspections for insurance companies after weather related tragedies hit the western MA area.
    2013 has brought more improvements to journalism and ENG Safety as the ENG Safety Newsletter will be detailing a higher level of field safety and how field people can keep themselves safe. Backpack News Gathering, BNG, is becoming the norm as technology again steps up to create more ways to utilize existing infrastructure and bring viewers live journalism from literally everywhere...moving vehicles, back alleys, buildings and other places where cell phone coverage permits multiline data transfer very much like the old ISDN wired-phone-line days. The phrase in the preceding paragraph, "PNG - Pedestrian News Gathering" is replaced, as it's not just a pedestrian technology, as the "Backpack" goes everywhere, and many times is slung onto a tripod for instant/everywhere live access.
    2014 brought forth more creative uses for technologies as drones and other airborne devices, along with miniature cameras like the "Go-pro" series, bring cameras and wireless a/v into a  whole new realm. Use of backpacks with cellular-phone wizardry comparable to the old ISDN systems came into vogue for what is now labeled as Cellular News Gathering, CNG. (At first we started calling it BNG, for Backpack News Gathering, against the tide of the industry's label as CNG....Bell agrees with the industry.)
     2015 showed more of the uses of CNG, which came into common practice with typical news remotes, but became more special as more stations used the technology for moving-vehicle live remotes, and started labeling the ENG Safety Newsletter as one for ENG/SNG/CNG, and started covering issues more than the powerline safety issues of the past, gratefully, because with the reduction of ENG mast equipped vehicles, there has also been a reduction in mast incidents and accidents. (That's a GREAT thing!) Much to Bell's dismay, but right on with his predictions, 2015 featured the fatal shooting of two journalists and the wounding of their interview subject by a domestic terrorist. This was done by a former TV news employee who used the opportunity of the crew being live to terrorize the audience, then the rest of the world, temporarily, as he recorded the shooting from his point of view and streamed the video to public sources.
       2016 featured the first videoconferenced safety presentation...albeit a short one to the folks at an Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters Convention. Various videoconferencing packages are available, but the streaming of video is best done locally, so slides and adequate video of the presenter are the way it'll remain for the time being. The presentation was very successful, and certainly got the safety point across. 2016 also was the start of the ENG/SNG/CNG Safety Course, starting with "Course-100". If successful, additional courses will be created at a cost that will make it v-e-r-y prqactical for stations to have everybody on the same page for ENG/SNG/CNG Safety.
       2017 kicked off with a lot of interest in the ENG/SNG/CNG Safety Courses, starting off with one company committing to custom courses. But, as the year progressed, not much went on with the extensive course. ENG/SNG/CNG Newsletter readership has waned quite a bit as Bonded Technologies are far more of a product headline than ENG vehicle incidents and accidents. That's a good thing for the industry, but with corporations acquiring more and more broadcast properties, the value of extensive safety preparedness cannot be overstated. A large broadcast corporation is an incredible target for personal injury law...not for employees as much as the innocent bystanders who, up to this point, have been very very lucky when incidents have occured. The monthly reminder the newsletter provides for $195/year, about $16/month, is very inexpensive insurance. As we say at "ENG Safety is an issue every month!" [insert laugh track here]
    Questions? email Mark Bell at

    There will be more..............

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