FAA, CNN Strike Deal to Test Drones for News Reporting

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Though tech companies like Amazon and Google haven't had the easiest time getting their drones off the ground, this week, the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) gave CNN the go ahead to start flying.

The news network struck an agreement with the FAA that will allow them to use drones in their reporting. CNN, whose headquarters are based in Atlanta, will work with Georgia Tech Research Institute to test out the drones, study them and share their findings with the agency about best practices over the next 12 to 24 months, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Related: France's Postal Service is Experimenting with Drone Mail Delivery

Though the FAA has largely banned the commercial use of drones to this point (hobbyists are in the clear, but the FAA states they cannot sell any footage they take), leading companies like Amazon to conduct their tests abroad, the agency has granted a few exemptions.

Last week, the FAA issued two permits for drone use: one to a company called Advanced Aviation Solutions in Spokane, Wash. for "crop scouting" and another to real-estate agent Doug Trudeau of Tierra Antigua Realty in Tucson, Ariz. to photograph properties that are for sale.

Related: For Commercial Drones, the Biggest Questions Remain Unanswered

As of last week, the FAA had received 214 exemption requests from businesses, and has granted 12 exemptions to 11 companies in industries ranging from architecture to film. Because filmmakers who want to use drones have to let the FAA know three days prior to a shoot, CNN doesn't think it makes sense to use the device for breaking news. The news organization did suggest the FAA alter its stance and change the drone regulations to something similar to helicopter requirements, so it can cover this type of fast-moving news.

Though CNN is the first news organization to legally utilize drones in the U.S., others are likely not far behind. Last year 14 media companies, including the New York Times Co. and the Tribune Co. filed a legal brief which argued that the government's ban on the commercial use of drones violated First Amendment rights.

Related: Major Financial Services Company Considers Using Drones in Inventive Way

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