CNN Partners with FAA to Further UAVs in Journalism


CNN has entered into a cooperative research and development agreement (CRDA) with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to advance efforts to integrate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into newsgathering and reporting.

The cooperation arrangement will integrate efforts from CNN's existing research partnership with the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI). Coordination between and among CNN, GTRI and the FAA has already begun, according to CNN, which is a division of Turner Broadcasting System Inc.

The FAA will use data collected from this initiative to formulate a framework for various types of UAVs to be safely integrated into newsgathering operations.

‘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,” said David Vigilante, senior vice president of CNN. “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 U.S. airspace.”

“Unmanned aircraft offer news organizations significant opportunities,” adds Michael Huerta, FAA administrator. “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.”

Following several media reports claiming that CNN has gotten the go-ahead from the FAA to start using UAVs in reporting, some industry experts have spoken out to clarify what this partnership actually means.

‘It's a data sharing agreement only. They can't use them for news. Only testing at a range. [Certificate of Authorization] still required,’ Matt Waite, founder of the Drone Journalism Lab, wrote on Twitter.

Drone lawyer Brendan Schulman echoed the same sentiment, stating on Twitter, ‘The approval was not for drone use in journalism but for research sharing with Georgia Tech.’ He also points out that his recently filed petition for small UAV operations ‘would cover many news reporting situations.’

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