News media heavyweight CNN has reached an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) designed to usher in the use of drones in newsgathering and reporting. CNN plans on experimenting with the vehicles in producing video content, while the government agency says the initiative will help to inform its drone policy moving forward.
"Unmanned aircraft offer news organizations significant opportunities," says FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. "We hope this agreement with CNN and the work we are doing with other news organizations and associations will help safely integrate unmanned newsgathering technology and operating procedures into the National Airspace System."
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While the development will be welcome news for CNN and other media outlets looking to tap into the potential of unmanned aircraft, to others it may seem a little overdue with the FAA still outlawing drone use for commercial purposes. Founded in 2011, the Professional Society of Drone Journalists has pushed for the establishment of an official framework for drone journalism, and the vehicles have already been used in news gathering in other parts of the world, from last year's World Cup in Brazil to a disaster zones in the Philippines.
But CNN's official approval from the FAA could pave the way for more widespread use, and give professionals the tools to do their jobs in cheaper, more efficient ways. Much like the exemptions granted to Hollywood production companies last year, the company will look to use drones to open up new possibilities in videography.
"Our aim is to get beyond hobby-grade equipment and to establish what options are available and workable to produce high quality video journalism using various types of UAVs and camera setups," says CNN Senior Vice President David Vigilante. "Our hope is that these efforts contribute to the development of a vibrant ecosystem where operators of various types and sizes can safely operate in the US airspace."