PHPA establishes unprecedented TV helicopter pool

PHPA establishes unprecedented TV helicopter pool 30 Sep, 12, Source: PHPA

Earlier this year, the PHPA began a dialogue with the Southern California RTNA (Radio & Television News Association) regarding this weekend’s I-405 bridge demolition, dubbed Carmageddon II.  Specifically, the PHPA was interested in getting the media outlets to reduce the helicopter noise over the freeway closure this year.  A similar event last year generated noise complaints and sparked outcry by politicians.

Since the RTNA boasts all of the local television & radio stations as its members, and since the RTNA is instrumental in getting pool feeds set up for major media events, we were very interested in getting the discussion started regarding a pool helicopter feed for the freeway closure.  After extensive discussion, the RTNA was able to convince the local media outlets that the single media pool helicopter was the right move.

This pool helicopter feed is a step in the right direction on many fronts.

The helicopter operators win – by showing the public that we are willing to change the ways we operate in order to reduce noise and be part of the solution.

The public wins – by having their collective voice heard, resulting in a reduction in helicopter noise in their communities, and an increase in awareness and participation by helicopter pilots in the region.

The helicopter industry as a whole wins – by demonstrating that helicopter noise can be mitigated successfully, without unecessary regulations and government rulemaking.

The PHPA is proud to have been part of this process, and we will continue to work with the public as we find solutions and improve communications with the community.

This is the related RTNA press release:-

Local television stations are forming an unprecedented joint operations plan to cut down on helicopter flights over Sepulveda Pass homes and businesses during the upcoming Carmageddon II weekend, according to the Radio and Television News Assn. which is coordinating the effort.

“We plan camera pools, year around, for many major court cases and other events in Southern California where cameras are restricted, but it’s always tough to arrange an ‘air pool’ due to technical challenges and the natural competitive urges of TV news departments,” said Rick Terrell, RTNA’s executive director. “This time, however, local TV news directors have made an extraordinary commitment to cut down helicopter hovering and cooperate to get news pictures for their viewers.”

The “pooling” plan calls for a single helicopter from a specific, participating station to make a fly over before the top of the hour when major newscasts are scheduled on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings and Monday morning, when the freeway is expected to reopen. The stations will not fly except for a single status-report video on Saturday and Sunday mornings, unless an emergency occurs.

“This is a culmination of efforts made by vendors to our industry, as well as the Professional Helicopter Pilots Assn., and RTNA over several months to change the way we cover news from the air,” said Jeff Baugh, who heads RTNA’s airborne operations committee and flies weekdays as an airborne traffic reporter.

“We don’t control all helicopter activities to be sure, but ever since the first Carmageddon, credentialed broadcast-media choppers have gone far and wide—literally—to avoid excessive hovering at low altitudes and alleviate disturbance on the ground. We hope it makes a big difference for the affected communities along the 405,” he added.

The stations contributing helicopters to the plan are KABC, KCBS/KCAL, KMEX, KNBC/KVEA, KTLA and KTTV. While one station is serving as the “pool chopper,” the other stations are expected to back them up to cover breaking news stories in other parts of the city, RTNA’s Terrell added

The RTNA of Southern California is a professional association of broadcast journalists throughout Southern California, from San Luis Obispo in the north down to the Mexican border.

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