Saturday, December 27, 2008

From Here to the Grand Finale (and After)

A few months ago, I began to tighten up on the range of stories that this blog covers, and I'm about to take that a step further.

Since I started covering the story of broadcast TV's digital transition, I've also been covering the related story of high definition programming. When I started out, practically everyone who knew about the transition was an HD fan, so it seemed a natural fit. But it is a separate story, and more importantly it's a story that will go on unfolding for years after the last person who is affected by the broadcast transition makes whatever adjustments they need to make in order to keep getting their broadcast stations. So as we get down to the wire, it's time to cut that story loose.

How will that change the blog? Well, we won't need the HD NETWORKS section anymore, and 90% of the stories in the PROVIDERS section also no longer fit the new format (however, their plans to get new customers from the ranks of disgruntled over-the-air viewers are still relevant). In addition, I've been finding that more and more of the basic transition-related stories I've been following have elements that could place them in either the PUBLIC, GOVERNMENT or BROADCAST sections, to the point where keeping those separate sections seems increasingly artificial. So from now on, no more sections, which I hope will allow me to sequence stories more naturally.

That brings us to the schedule. Up until recently the way I wrote these updates was to gather links from the 18th of one month to the 17th of the next, and then lock myself away for a couple of weeks to write it all up. With so little time left, that's obviously not going to work as far as keeping things current. So starting with the most recent update I've been writing up stories as they come in, and despite the fact that this requires a lot of rewriting (as new information comes in that that updates the old or casts it in a different light), I was able to get that update out only three days after the 17th. I expect the one-month-out update to come out in a similar timeframe. After that, I plan to go weekly with three-weeks-out, two-weeks-out and one-week-out updates. In the last week, I'll try to post things as they come up (before that, stories of particular urgency may also come out separately if they can't wait until the next update).

I'm planning to take a few days off work during transition week (The Day is on a Tuesday, but since broadcasters have until midnight to switch off, most of the immediate fallout will develop over the next couple of days) and will report as much as I can. After that, I'll report on follow-on developments as they come up, but not on any set schedule. If the country reacts the way Wilmington, NC did, there may not be that much to write about after a couple of weeks or so.

And after that? It's possible a new blog might take up the HD story again, but not until I've had at least a couple of months off to catch up on life in general. It can be argued that the ongoing conversion to true HD production within the digital TV universe constitutes its own kind of transition, but I need some time to survey the plethora of HD news and opinion sources to make sure I'm not just repeating what someone else is doing better. As for this blog, it's possible I might do some retrospective posts tracking various topics over the blog's history, or I might just leave the 30-some updates up as resource material for media historians who might like to see how the story unfolded month by month.

So that's where things stand right now. Expect at least one more post before the one-month-out update. See you then!


At 12:11 AM, Anonymous jheartney said...

As a graphic artist, one part of this story that I've found interesting is the somewhat awkward transition from traditional 4x3 aspect ratio programming to the 16x9 widescreen made possible by the new digital format. In particular it's been interesting to watch the design compromises broadcasters have had to make knowing parts of their audience will watch using a variety of formatting choices, such as full widescreen, windowboxed 4x3 within widescreen, 4x3 letterbox, 4x3 stretched to widescreen, 4x3 center cut, etc. And of course the ads are a bewildering patchwork of formats.

Alas, I imagine this is also outside the purview of your now-tightening blog focus. Maybe if I get motivated I'll write up some thoughts on a blog myself. Meantime thanks for all the effort you put into this blog.


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