In Philadelphia, Different Approaches to Chopper Coverage

By Merrill Knox 

The Philadelphia Daily News takes a look at the different approaches to aerial coverage for the market’s local stations. The piece examines local news service (LNS) agreements, which allow stations to pool helicopter resources. In Philly, NBC O&O WCAU used to share a helicopter with Fox O&O WTXF, an agreement that expired last year:

“We believe we should look to differentiate ourselves from other television stations in the market,” [WCAU vice president of news Anzio] Williams said. “It was hard to differentiate ourselves when we were using the same pictures.”

He added, “We wanted to make sure that everything we do is better. And by getting SKYFORCE 10, we now have the opportunity to have closer images, and we can take viewers where we want to. We wanted to have the best possible tool we could put in the air.”

[…] Williams’ competition says it isn’t particularly impressed by SKYFORCE 10. Jim Driscoll, Fox 29’s vice president/news director, doesn’t think that the strategy is forward-thinking.

NBC 10 is “doubling their cost for generic footage – a traditional strategy that is 1970s and ’80s thinking,” he said. “You can’t be traditional in 2013. You have to be innovative, which is what LNS is.”

Driscoll added that this shared-services approach frees up staff for other, exclusive stories. “Anybody can shoot an overnight fire,” he said. “If I have an LNS camera to do that, I can redirect my resources to do emotional stories that will resonate with viewers.”