Going Sky-Def

ABC may now have the best view of Los Angeles' traffic snarls and famous car chases. ABC-owned KABC recently launched a high-definition–enabled helicopter, the market's first (Gannett Broadcasting's KUSA Denver is the only other local broadcast station flying an HD chopper).

KABC's President/General Manager Cheryl Fair and VP of Programming, Advertising and Production Bill Burton spoke with B&C's Allison Romano.

High-definition sets are in fewer than 10% of homes. Why introduce an HD chopper before the penetration grows?

Fair: This seemed like a great way to start making our way to all–high-definition for our local news. It is beneficial for people with HD sets and standard-definition sets, too. The camera is so good that it makes the picture look even better in standard-definition.

How are you integrating the new helicopter into news coverage?

Burton: We are known for being the breaking-news station. and we rely on our helicopter to be our first response to stories. Plus, the L.A. market is spread out, so the helicopter is an integral tool to cover news. It seemed like a natural extension to enhance our coverage with the new technology.

Who supplies the chopper?

Burton: We are leasing the helicopter from Helinet Aviation Services. We've been a client for a long time.

How have you introduced Air7HD to viewers?

Burton: We ran a four-day campaign of promotions explaining that something would change and improve our breaking news. Then we introduced the new helicopter with stories in the [early evening] and 11 p.m. news, explaining how it is better for viewers. We also explained HD, how it works, and how people can get it.