Gary Smith said he did not feel using a helicopter to film the search of Sir Cliff's home was "disproportionate".
Mr Smith, an editor at the BBC at the time, accepted that images filmed from the helicopter were an "intrusion" into Sir Cliff's privacy.
But he said a balance had to be struck.
"There was a balance between the intrusion and the public interest," he told the judge.
"I'm saying there was a strong public interest in having pictures of what was happening inside the gated complex."
He said the decision to use a helicopter was "made alone usual reporting lines".
"The use of the the helicopter and its camera allows us to see what's going on," he said.
"Without it we would have had to rely on what we were being told by South Yorkshire Police.
"One of the key principles of newsgathering is to try to find out for yourself what's happening."
He added: "A basic principle of television reporting is that you need pictures to accompany a story to tell an audience what is happening."