- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 19, 2016

The allure of easily obtainable, airborne views of the world has caught the attention of the nation’s television stations: Drones now hover around TV news.

A new survey finds that 23 percent of the nation’s TV newsrooms are currently using or plan to start using drones for their newsgathering, and nearly 30 percent say they would use drone footage shot by someone not employed by the station.

The findings are from a survey of 1,286 stations around the nations conducted by the Radio Television Digital News Association, the leading industry source for business updates and other information.

Privacy issues and legal aspects of drone use continues to be a source of public discussion, even as video footage from high definition cameras aboard airborne drones proves to be a popular news and entertainment source. Their use is also a potential boon to military, law enforcement and rescue operations.

TV news directors are parsing out the practical aspects, the survey found.

“If someone else shoots drone footage, the station will consider using it,” noted Bob Papper, the Hofstra University journalism professor who coordinated the poll.

He found that 29 percent were of the directors were comfortable with the idea, though some said they would not actually solicit drone footage.

Another 16 percent of the stations would use drone footage for certain, special stories or events, 14 percent preferred use in breaking news, 13 percent for major weather events, 11 percent for general news coverage. Only 2 percent saw a practical use for drones in sports coverage.

But there appears to be a budding future. The survey — which also examined the state of TV news as a business — found that 14 percent of the stations were either testing drone use or eyeing them for use in commercial production and promotional use.

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