Media Outlets Challenge FAA Drone Ban

Several media companies including The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Associated Press have challenged the FAA's authority to prohibit the press from flying drones in search of a story. In a briefing filed this week with the National Transportation Safety Board, a group of 16 media outlets argued that current FAA regulations banning the commercial use of drones are too broad and have had a "chilling effect" on newsgathering.

"The FAA's position is untenable as it rests on a fundamental misunderstanding about journalism," the briefing states. "Newsgathering is not a 'business purpose.' It is a First Amendment right."

The challenge was filed in support of Raphael Pirker, a drone operator and filmmaker who the FAA fined $10,000 after he flew a small hexacopter to record aerial footage of the University of Virginia for a promotional video in 2011.

An NTSB judge threw out the fine against Pirker in March, finding that the FAA lacks the legal authority to impose or enforce such a blanket ban. The FAA has appealed the ruling, holding that the current rules relating to UAV flying remain in force while the appeal is under consideration.

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