Chicago’s air wars have gotten a lot less hardcore–with fewer birds in the air. Phil Rosenthal’s Tower Ticker
blog in the Chicago Tribune reports two Windy City stations have quietly teamed up–and grounded one of their pricey eyes in the sky. “Since New Year’s Day, NBC-owned WMAQ-Ch. 5 and Fox-owned WFLD-Ch. 32 have been sharing a single news helicopter and whatever video is shot from it,” Rosenthal reports.
The smaller air fleet flying over breaking news stories in Chicago comes on the heels of a growing relationship between NBC and FOX, with stations in Philadelphia experimenting with a video-sharing agreement to cut costs and avoid “duplication,” as the news suits like to call it.
But the one chopper, two station deal has its awkward side: “Weekday mornings from 5 to 7, Channel 5 can have a traffic reporter on board. That person can be replaced by a Channel 32 traffic reporter from 7 to 9 a.m. If news breaks during that time, the other station can run the video but not the reporting,” FOX’s Senior VP of News Operations at the FOX Television Stations Sharri Berg tells the Ticker.
Local news air warriors look at the deal as yet another scary sign of the times. “It just gets worse and worse,” says a veteran major market chopper vet.