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TV journos seek end to copter ban

RTNDA prexy pleads case to Homeland Security chief Ridge

WASHINGTON — TV journos on Thursday urged top White House officials to lift a post-Sept. 11 ban on news helicopters in skies above the country’s top markets, including Gotham and Los Angeles.

In a letter addressed to new Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge, Radio-Television News Directors Assn. (RTNDA) prexy Barbara Cochran said the grounding is robbing the viewing public of critical information.

Cochran pointed out that similar types of aircraft also grounded after the terrorist attacks have once again been cleared for take-off, and that news helicopters should be no different.

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

The Federal Aviation Administration has told RNTDA that the ban continues for national security reasons, a position Cochran said she doesn’t understand.

In addition to writing Ridge, Cochran also sent letters to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, White House chief of staff Andrew Card and presidential advisor Karen Hughes.

Earlier this week, Cochran made a similar pitch to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Media and entertainment lobbyists have been paying close attention to the helicopter issue as well, saying the ban is of serious concern.

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