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TVU, ArrowData Launch Drone-based ENG Service

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF. AND LAS VEGAS—TVU Networks, a provider of mobile IP newsgathering technology, is partnering with ArrowData, a Las Vegas-based aerial data services company to offer a UAV service will allow news broadcasters to transmit unique live aerial views from ArrowData’s drones in full HD with sub-second latency using TVU’s portable cellular transmitters.

ArrowData is the first private company to receive a special waiver from the FAA to operate drones for ENG or AeroJournalism. The new service, which will be available to broadcasters based on a package price, will allow broadcasters to offer vantage points not possible from traditional ground level camera views. Broadcasters will be able to incorporate the Aerojournalism service into their current acquisition workflow since the drone flying and live video transmission is handled together.

“This partnership gives us a tremendous advantage in this emerging industry,” said James Fleitz, Vice President of ArrowData in Las Vegas. “We provide the dynamic shots from drones, and TVU is the perfect answer for transmitting that video.”

An ArrowData drone was used recently for live reporting and weather shots for a large-market news broadcast. “This is a game changer for those in the news business. There are many questions in the industry right now about how best to use drones. This partnership allows us to answer those questions and begin implementing AeroJournalism in newsrooms right away,” said Ron Futrell, Sales and Marketing Director for ArrowData and veteran TV newscaster for more than 3 decades.

Since there are certain FAA restrictions to using drones, the service will not be available for breaking news, and will require advance notice.

“Using drones for newsgathering is a very new and unique approach to capturing news and is currently used for special feature and non-breaking news,” said Eric Chang, vice president of marketing for TVU in Mountain View, Calif. “While the FAA has granted ArrowData the first and only commercial exemption for AeroJournalism, certain restrictions related to drone flying still remain such as not being able to fly within five miles of an airport without first obtaining permission from the FAA. In addition, ArrowData provides its own experienced and professional crew for set up and piloting of the drone at the desired location. Therefore, there is some planning that is required when using drones for newsgathering.”

Broadcasters can sign up for the service by contacting either ArrowData or TVU, Chang added. “The service is offered based on a package price which includes full or half-day rates with expenses for an ArrowData crew and equipment and also rental rates for the TVUPack,” he said. “A common arrangement is for a station to plan several drone shoots in an area with a station's camera crew in a single day.”

The service is available nationwide, according to Chang, who added that “ArrowData would work out the logistics with the requesting broadcaster ahead of time.” ArrowData currently has five qualified pilots on staff, with others available on an as needed basis. “ArrowData’s long-term goal is to provide training and eventually licensing so that news outlets can use their own crews with continuous consulting and technical assistance from us,” Chang said.

“We’re delighted to partner with ArrowData to bring their drone piloting services together with TVU’s live uplink transmission capabilities,” said Paul Shen, CEO, TVU Networks. “It’s a true win/win for broadcasters. They can leave the capturing of aerial views in the capable hands of ArrowData personnel while receiving live, low-latency HD video from a TVU mobile cellular uplink transmitter.”