Media outlets testing use of drones for reporting

Gerry Smith
Bloomberg News

A group of 10 U.S. media companies, including the New York Times Co., the Associated Press and NBCUniversal, will begin testing the use of drones for news gathering.

The news organizations will join with Virginia Tech University to study the use of small unmanned aircraft at one of six test areas approved by Congress, according to a statement today.

The media companies are hoping to pave the way for new federal rules that allow for the use of drones to cover breaking news events that would otherwise be too expensive or dangerous to capture in person. The Federal Aviation Administration currently prohibits the commercial use of drones, including for journalism, though it has made some exceptions.

“The AP is excited to join with these other leading media companies in exploring the safe and responsible use of drone technology for news gathering purposes that further our understanding of current events,” AP Director of Photography Santiago Lyon said in the statement.

Others media companies that will participate in the drone testing are Advance Publications Inc., A.H. Belo Corp., Gannett Co., Getty Images, E.W. Scripps Co., Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. and the Washington Post.

The announcement comes just days after CNN said that it will also begin testing the use of drones for news gathering