CNN to introduce news-gathering drones

The camera-mounted unmanned aerial vehicles will allow the struggling network to film in hard-to-reach areas

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CNN has become the first major US news network to obtain permission to use flying drones (or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, UAVs) in news-gathering and other types of production.

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Having fulfilled the demanding requirements set out by the Federal Aviation Administration, CNN can now begin testing the camera-bearing drones but must provide feedback to the FAA that will help them use their own drones in non-military areas, according to the Guardian.

While legislation makes it difficult for American news organisations to get permission to use UAVs, broadcasters elsewhere have already started using the technology including the BBC, who have a team of Civil Aviation Authority-trained drone pilots working for the Global Video Unit with so-called “hexacopters”. 

Global delivery service Amazon has also experimented with drones, though says it may need to move its testing to other countries as the US legislation is too time-consuming to get through.

In a statement, CNN senior vice-president David Vigilante said the network planned 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”. 

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CNN’s flagging ratings have also almost certainly influenced the move, with TVNewser reporting that 2014 was the once-dominant network’s least-watched year since 1996.