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SHORT ITEMS 05/03/99 L.A. Supervisor seeks investigation of news aircraft dangers. A Los Angeles County Supervisor has introduced a motion…

SHORT ITEMS

05/03/99

L.A. Supervisor seeks investigation of news aircraft dangers. A Los Angeles County Supervisor has introduced a motion to restrict the number of helicopters allowed to operate in the vicinity of unfolding news events.

Yvonne Braithwaite Burke introduced the motion after witnessing a high speed car chase through residential areas in mid-April. While watching the chase, Burke said she saw approximately 11 helicopters and a few small fixed-wing aircrafts following the caravan of police cars.

Burke said she was concerned with the extensive fleet of helicopters and the dangers to the communities below if the helicopters had to suddenly change directions as the cars involved in the chase did. Saying she believes that coordination and regulation among the aircrafts that cover such incidents is necessary, Burke proposed a motion to send a letter to the Regional Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration requesting immediate investigation of the airspace issue. The commission had not voted on the motion by late April. North Carolina legislature takes steps toward enacting shield law Committees in both the North Carolina House and Senate approved bills in late April that would provide statutory protections for reporters asked to testify about confidential sources or information. Thirty states and the District of Columbia currently have such shield laws.

The bills provide reporters a qualified privilege against forced disclosure of the identity of confidential sources or the contents of confidential materials if that information is readily available from other sources. Under the bills, forcing a reporter to testify would require a showing that the reporter’s confidential information was essential to the case, was necessary to carry out justice, and was not available from any other source.

The original House bill gave reporters an absolute privilege to protect confidential sources, but according to Associated Press reports, it was amended to match the Senate bill in an effort to ensure its passage. (H.B. 1200, S.B. 1009)