Media Organizations Challenge FAA Ban on Drones for News

By Kevin Eck 

drone_AP_304Saying the Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t understand what journalists do, more than a dozen media organizations challenged the FAA’s ban on using drones for news gathering.

The Associated Press reports the group, including the AP, filed a brief with the NTSB in support of aerial photographer Raphael Pirker who was fined $10,000 for using his drone to shoot a commercial near the University of Virginia.

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“The FAA’s position is untenable as it rests on a fundamental misunderstanding about journalism,” read a brief filed by the group with the NTSB. “News gathering is not a ‘business purpose.’ It is a First Amendment right.”

“This brief, filed by the country’s leading news organizations, supports the proposition we have argued that federal agencies must consult with the public before banning the use of new technologies that have many beneficial purposes,” said attorney Brendan Schulman, who is representing Pirker. “The argument becomes even stronger when First Amendment considerations are taken into account.”

Other media groups participating in the brief are Advance Publications Inc., Cox Media Group, Gannett Co., Gray Television Inc., Hearst Corporation, The McClatchy Company, the National Press Photographers Association, The National Press Club, The New York Times Company, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the Radio-Television Digital News Association, Scripps Media Inc., Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., the Tribune Company and The Washington Post.

FAA officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.