CNN will start using drones for reporting. The Federal Aviation Administration signed a research agreement with the cable news network to “advance efforts” to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in U.S. airspace for news gathering and reporting.
CNN is testing the camera-equipped drones with the help of the Georgia Tech Research Institute.
“Our aim is to get beyond hobby-grade equipment and to establish what options are available and workable to produce high quality video journalism,” said David Vigilante, CNN’s senior vice president of legal.
The FAA currently bans drones for commercial use. Several news organizations, including The New York Times, the Associated Press, Gannett and Hearst, filed a legal brief with the NTSB in May of 2014, stating the ban violates “the First Amendment right to gather news” and that use of drones can benefit the public:
“Reports on traffic, hurricanes, wildfires, and crop yields could all be told more safely and cost-effectively with the use of UAS. Lower-cost aerial photography would help more newsrooms across the country bring more accurate and useful information to the public.”
In the brief, the news organizations argue:
“Unlike the FAA, for example, the Supreme Court recognizes that the publication of news is not a commercial activity comparable to the sale of goods and services. The First Amendment fully protects both for-profit and non-profit gathering and dissemination of news and information.”
Therefore, news organizations shouldn’t be included in the commercial use drone ban.