RTNDA Asks White House To Lift Ban on News Helicopters

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Washington - Oct 25, 2001 - The Radio-Television News Directors Association is appealing to White House officials to lift the ban on news and traffic helicopters still in place in 30 cities even though similar types of aircraft are now allowed to fly in 27 of those cities.

"News and traffic helicopters are among the most valuable tools used by television and radio stations to inform their audiences," said Barbara Cochran, RTNDA president, in letters to Gov. Tom Ridge, director of the Office of Homeland Security, and others. "Yet at a time of heightened concern about public safety, these valuable newsgathering tools remain grounded. The public has been deprived of speedily receiving accurate information about their immediate communities.

"The Federal Aviation Administration has said that the restrictions on news and traffic helicopters are still in place because of national security concerns, which have not been further defined," Cochran continued. "I am appealing to you, as the President's Director of Homeland Security, to help get the restrictions on news helicopters lifted. Such a step would bring another level of security to the people living in our 30 largest cities, because they would have access to timely, accurate information about incidents in their communities."

Cochran also wrote letters to National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, and Counselor to the President Karen Hughes. Cochran's letter to Ridge is on the RTNDA website at www.rtnda.org.

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