Before the world of Twitter and social media, the sight of a news chopper emblazoned with Seven or Nine across the side was sometimes the public’s first hint that news was afoot. And while it’s not news that belts have been tightening at commercial television networks across the country, we were surprised to learn that the Seven and Nine network may soon be using the same news helicopter for vision for their evening bulletins.

In a statement from Seven and Nine sent to Channel Nine staff on Wednesday, they were told that the networks were “exploring opportunities for the joint management of news gathering helicopters in all major capital cities”. The statement said the move was “exploring a joint approach to allow effective management of costs while ensuring ongoing competition on news gathering between the Seven and Nine Networks”.

The networks are already sharing helicopters on weekends in some cities. Geoff Sparke, broadcast operations director at Nine, said “sharing resources is a practice internationally, most obviously in the US”. We understand the move has been pushed by Seven, which has already made cuts across its news and current affairs divisions this year.

While Sparke said this was done elsewhere, we wonder what this would mean in the ultra-competitive world of the 6pm news bulletin. Will both networks send up a reporter and crew? Who gets the best seat? Or will we just see more tweets like these ones from yesterday? Does first still count if your rival gets the footage from the same camera?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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