Sinclair Equipping 45 Stations With Drones

Ten Sinclair stations are already equipped with drones and the personnel to operate them and 35 will get them next year, says Sinclair Chief Pilot Jeff Rose. “Viewers love drones, he says. "They go over really big."


Sinclair Broadcast Group is making a commitment to drone-based newsgathering with the goal of equipping 45 of the company’s TV stations with the miniature remote-controlled hovering aircraft by the end of 2017.

That was the word from Sinclair’s Jeff Rose, who has the title of UAS (unmanned aircraft system) chief pilot for the station group.

Rose revealed details of Sinclair’s drone program when he led off a panel discussion on new electronic newsgathering technologies at TVNewsCheck’s NewsTech Forum conference in New York on Tuesday.

Ten Sinclair stations are already equipped with drones and the personnel to operate them who have taken a required course and obtained FAA certification to pilot the machines, Rose said. He said Sinclair’s safety policy calls for two pilots to operate a single drone at all time.

“Viewers love drones. They go over really big,” Rose said. He noted that the best stories for drone-based newsgathering are those involving a large geographic area — preferably one with few or no people, since the use of drones for news-gathering over population centers has not yet been approved for local TV stations.

One story he said benefited from the use of drones was one that a Sinclair station in Oklahoma did recently about the largely deserted town of Picher, Okla., where decades of lead mining poisoned water supplies and caused chronic sinkholes, cave-ins and related irregularities that rendered the town unlivable. Drones provided an invaluable overview of the town, he said.


For its growing drone fleet, Sinclair is using Inspire 1 drones from DJI Inc., but the company plans on upgrading to a new generation of DJI drones — the Inspire 2 — for its future drone purchases. “This is great equipment,” Rose said.

Elsewhere in the session, which was titled “ENG Evolution: Everything is Changing,” NewsTECH Forum attendees heard a presentation from Mike Englehaupt, VP-chief technology officer for Graham Media, on the subject of video-return technologies and how they’re helping TV reporters in the field.

Another panelist — Michael Porter, VP of business development for Telescope — talked about his company’s involvement in helping news organizations capture and package relevant content from social media.

A fourth panelist — Louis Libin, founder and president of Broad Comm, a broadcast-technology consulting firm — discussed the continuing battle that TV newsrooms are waging for the spectrum they require to operate wireless equipment.

Libin’s view is that the FCC has made little or no effort to organize or license wireless broadcast technology. As a result, “millions” of wireless mics are in use, he said. “The FCC never got it or they never cared about it,” he said. “Every wireless mic needs to be protected.”

To listen to a recording of this panel session, click here.

Read all about the NewsTECHForum here.

Comments (9)

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Greg Johnson says:

December 14, 2016 at 6:38 pm

Beyond the wow factor initially, how is it integrated beyond B-roll? Or how do you measure viewers who “love it?” How many drones does it take to cover a top 50 market?

    Angie McClimon says:

    December 16, 2016 at 10:21 am

    It’s a gimmick. Sinclair is known for them.

alicia farmer says:

December 16, 2016 at 1:34 pm

Sinclair: “Viewers love drones…they go over really big.” Homer Simpson: “Mmm… donuts”.

Joe Jaime says:

December 16, 2016 at 8:52 pm

If they can upload live video to a ENG truck ……. then uplink to the station…… it will be interesting to see the many live shot posiblilities a drone could provide.

    alicia farmer says:

    December 17, 2016 at 10:03 am

    Yes, looking forward to those empty crime scene drone videos.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    December 18, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Again showing why FormerGM is former. One thing drones will show is how limited Tornado and Hurrucane Damage is. Based on the limited views News can now present, one is lead to believe the destruction covers a very wide area. I have seen multiple open shots/closing shots on Talent from Drone flying away over area and effects are great. Only those with limited vision (who should be out of Industry) would not applaud new technology to help the viewer understand the story.

    alicia farmer says:

    December 18, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    Insider: Only eight grammatical/capitalization errors in five sentences. You are improving. “Knowledge is good”.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    December 19, 2016 at 7:01 am

    Clearly you and RIDGELINETV have to realize that Due to the 2000 era Comment Section which allows no Paragraphs or other text formatting, capitalisation is being done for maximum readability. Furthermore, this is not Rocket Science as I type on an iPad so I really do not care to double check items. As long as the point is made, I could care less as it’s not putting any dollars in my pocket. Then again, as you shun technical advancement, you probably are taking your time responding on a Commodore 64.

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