Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Players #2: Broadcast

Since it is is digital broadcasting, not HD, that falls under federal mandates, the transition to HD programming really is a separate matter from the "DTV transition", but it's obviously a big part of this story, a part whose telling will go on well past 2/17/09. As it stands now, the larger broadcast networks are fairly far along with the transition to HD programming, but there's certainly a few to-dos left to be done, among them:

* National News - One network (ABC) has started this by getting Good Morning America up in HD, and there are reports that Today will follow later this year. So how long will it be until some nightly news shows follow, and how much time after that will be required until remote (i.e. non-studio) HD footage becomes common?

* Non-primetime - Not my area of greatest interest, but it's worth noting that CBS is still alone (after several years) in having an HD soap. And how long before all of late-night falls in line?

* Local News - Back in January, I read this Broadcasting and Cable article on CBS's plans to convert its O&O stations' local news operations to HD, starting with Boston and Chicago stations in March. I'm in the Boston area, and am anxiously awaiting developments here (the article says they need Nextel to deploy some new microwave gear before beginning HD newscasts). I've read some scattered reports of HD local news already. How long before it becomes commonplace?

* Publicity - This is a network-specific observation (PBS is the network). PBS HD has existed as a seperate channel for some time now, and yet the only mention of it on their website lies in some well-hidden pages containing some very old info, and some Red Book production requirements. Is this channel still considered a demo? My local station (WGBH, one of the most prominent in the country) never mentions it in their "@GBH" promotional emails.

* Other Local Programming - We're lucky here in the Boston area that our ABC affiliate WCVB does the occasional episode of their magazine show Chronicle in HD. These include some of the best HD footage I've ever seen, and I really hope they start doing this more often than once every few weeks! I'd love to hear about locally-originated HD in other areas. When will HD start popping up on local digitals not associated with the "Big 5" (such as Telemundo stations and indies)?

UPDATE (03/27/06): Re-worked the first paragraph, and added a final sentence to the last paragraph.

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