If things go right, there will be fewer media choppers hovering pointlessly above the ends of the closed 405 freeway during this weekend's traffic event. Or non-event, whatever. The Radio Television News Association has coordinated an "unprecedented" pool arrangement to cut down on duplicative flights.
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.