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KUSA, KMGH Share News Chopper

Gannett’s KUSA and McGraw-Hill’s KMGH have agreed to share helicopter usage in the Denver market in an effort to cut costs. The stations will share one chopper and videographers, but stressed that they’ll continue to “maintain strict separation of each station’s editorial decisions and reporter assignments.”

The share starts Jan. 1.

“Equipment sharing is not necessarily a new idea, but this is a new type of pooling resources to allow both stations to provide extensive news coverage from the air,” said KMGH General Manager Byron Grandy. “You will see other stations following the lead of 9News and 7News as a way to control costs while providing more extensive news coverage.”

KUSA General Manager Mark Cornetta said the savings would be substantial. “Obviously there is an economic benefit to flying one helicopter and it’s not unlike sharing pool footage of a political event,” he said. “Our news departments will each maintain their complete independence, while sharing the use of our most effective newsgathering tool.”

Stations are increasingly coming up with innovative ways to share services and cut costs. NBC’s WCAU and Fox’s WTXF begin sharing content under the Local News Service banner in Philadelphia in January. In Denver, Local TV’s KDVR and Tribune’s KWGN agreed to share services in September, with both operating out of KDVR headquarters.

An NBC affiliate, KUSA is Denver’s market leader in ratings and revenue. KMGH is an ABC outlet.