Producers Seek Drone Exemption for TV, Film

The Motion Picture Association of America Monday lent its support to a request by seven aerial production companies who have asked the FAA for an exemption from drone restrictions.

MPAA said its members have worked with some of the companies on international shoots and it backs providing an exemption to allow for domestic use of unmanned aircrafts systems (UASs) for TV and movie production.

“Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) offer the motion picture and television industry an innovative and safer option for filming. This new tool for storytellers will allow for creative and exciting aerial shots, and is the latest in a myriad of new technologies being used by our industry to further enhance the viewer experience," said MPAA senior VP, government and regulatory affairs. "We welcome the FAA’s leadership and support their guidance to safely authorize the use of UAS's for the motion picture and television industry.”

MPAA facilitated the request for an exemption from the Department of Transportation, which concedes there could be economic benefits. DOT is considering allowing commercial application of so-called "small UASs," but says it will first consider the hazards that need to be mitigated.

Producers join agriculture firms, as well as power line, pipeline inspection, and oil and gas inspection companies seeking the waiver from regulations on "general flight rules, pilot certificate requirements, manuals, maintenance and equipment mandates and from some airworthiness certification requirements that can be waived in narrowly defined, controlled and low-risk situations.

To receive the exemptions, all the firms must show that their drone operations won't adversely affect safety, and must provide at least the level of safety the rules they are seeking to exempt would mandate. They also have to make a public interest showing.

Currently, waivers are available to public entities like  law enforcement, firefighting, border patrol, and disaster relief.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.