Inside Move: Why in the sky

Newsies nag pols for copter clearances

The campaign to get news helicopters back where they belong — off the pad and plying the skies above major hubs like Gotham and Los Angeles — wages on, with TV journos appealing all the way to the White House.

Last week, Radio-Television News Directors Assn. prexy Barbara Cochran sent letters to a bevy of top officials in the Bush administration, including new Homeland Security director Tom Ridge, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, White House chief of staff Andrew Card and presidential counselor Karen Hughes.

Washington grounded news helicopters after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Although lifted in some jurisdictions, the ban remains in effect for the country’s top 30 metropolises, driving news stations nuts.

“News and traffic helicopters are among the most valuable tools used by television and radio stations to inform their audiences,” Cochran wrote. “The public has been deprived of speedily receiving accurate information about their immediate communities.”

Cochran doesn’t understand why similar types of aircraft have been given the go-ahead by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly in most of those areas. When pressed by Cochran as to why the ban on news choppers continues, officials cite reasons of national security. End of conversation.

Assuming mail is even getting through to the White House in light of the anthrax scare, Cochran still has received no response from the Bush administration.

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