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Texas Broadcasters Speak Up Against Drone Restriction

They said a state law forbidding the use of UAVs by journalists is unconstitutional

The Texas Association of Broadcasters is supporting a lawsuit that challenges a prohibition against using drones in newsgathering in that state.

The lawsuit, filed last November, is by a Texas news photographer. It challenges the constitutionality of Chapter 423 of the Texas Government Code, which “broadly prohibits the use of drones by journalists in public airspace, yet arbitrarily exempts other members of the public from those proscriptions,” the brief argues.

TAB said the law is a “speaker-based regulation” that discriminates against the press and violates the U.S. Constitution by harming the free flow of newsworthy information to the public.

TAB said it was joined in filing the amicus brief by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 44 additional entities, including multiple station groups, the National Association of Broadcasters and other industry advocates.

“The brief outlines the public benefit of the technology when used for newsgathering, its similarity to other technologies such as news helicopters, and how the restrictions in state law constrain the devices’ use in newsgathering while permitting other, non-journalist speakers to deploy the devices at will.”

TAB said action in the case is expected this fall or winter.

Read the brief