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Seven, Nine networks combine ENG resources

written by australianaviation.com.au | September 13, 2016
Channels 9 and 7 news Squirrels have been replaced with a shared contracted helicopter. (Paul Sadler)
Channels 9 and 7 news Squirrels have been replaced with a shared contracted helicopter. (Paul Sadler)

The Seven and Nine TV networks have ended their own helicopter operations for electronic news gathering (ENG) with the start of a combined national contract for shared helicopter news operations in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.

Camden Airport’s United Aero Helicopters began operating three AS350B3 Squirrels, previously used by Nine in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, to capture aerial footage in those locations on September 12.

Two AS350B2 Squirrels, used by Seven in Brisbane and Melbourne, will now cover the news in Adelaide and Perth.

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The new contract represents an end of an era for the two rival networks, given all of the helicopters will be repainted in white with a dark navy blue tailboom generic colour scheme with no network branding.

Separately, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is also looking to contract out its aerial ENG capability around the country through a request for tender on the government’s AusTender website which closed on August 3.

The ABC said it had owned and operated helicopters in Sydney and Melbourne for a number of years and is also expanding to a cost-effective national aerial news gathering solution using helicopters and fixed wing aircraft from bases in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

The ABC’s tender request brief said it specifically needed helicopter and fixed wing services for aerial footage only in metropolitan and regional areas including coverage of major natural disasters such as bushfires, floods and cyclones; regional and metropolitan coverage where the conveyance of a news gathering crew is required and selective coverage of news and current affairs issues in regional areas.

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The ABC currently operates a leased helicopter in Sydney and uses an ad-hoc helicopter in Melbourne.

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4 Comments

  • Anil Kattula

    says:

    Have noticed that they ate also using drones for a lot of aerial coverage now. Far cheaper and each tv crew can have in their van

  • Tony

    says:

    Agree small quad rotor drones are taking over for both news coverage and police work. The issue with drones is getting to the area of interest. Helicopters from a fixed city base can be over the scene inside 15 minutes. Drones need to be driven to the scene, then launched. At the low cost, however, one can be in every police vehicle. Great for locating suspects.
    Fixed wing long flight duration drones would work but only if acceptable to public perceptions of safety.

  • Joe

    says:

    Drones are great, but they cannot carry a reporter and cameraman to the scene of a story as quickly and efficiently as a helicopter can. If there is a story in an out of the way area where vehicles cannot access, the helicopter can. Also, the downlink from the helicopter to the base for live streaming or for later broadcast is much better with the equipment carried on a heli.

  • Martin

    says:

    Sort of sad that the unique colourful corporate news helicopters are gradually departing, but such moves make good economic sense.

    Also, less ENG helicopters over the same incident all trying to obtain the same footage should help reduce the chances of a mid-air collision as has happened at least once in the USA between two ENG helicopters with fatal results.

  • Bryan

    says:

    Get rid of the helicopters in the western areas of Brisbane. They are a noisy unwanted nuisance, flying too low too often.
    We all know the roads are busy and slow, don’t need some genius in one flying around annoying the local residents with that “news”. Too loud too often!

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