[opendtv] Re: News: Nielsen Gives Fuzzy Picture of HDTV Penetration

  • From: "John Willkie" <johnwillkie@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 8 Nov 2007 09:47:34 -0800


Except for a few indy stations in larger markets, in 1972, there weren't too
many tv stations in the U.S. that transmitted anything but the signoff after
1:00 a.m.

That did change in 1973, when CBS started airing re-runs and other things
after the late news and they usually ended after 1:00 a.m.  (Station uptake
was a bit slow in many markets.)

Then, in 1974, NBC started to air the 'Tomorrow Show' and things started to
change.  It wasn't uncommon even in later years, for that show to air mostly
a single promo for NBC news.  I can't remember the words now, but I sure do
remember the tempo of the spot

John Willkie, who used to watch late night tv after getting home from a
afternoon to evening job.

-----Mensaje original-----
De: opendtv-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:opendtv-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] En
nombre de Craig Birkmaier
Enviado el: Thursday, November 08, 2007 6:09 AM
Para: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Asunto: [opendtv] Re: News: Nielsen Gives Fuzzy Picture of HDTV Penetration

At 3:48 PM -0500 11/7/07, Manfredi, Albert E wrote:
>By 1966, in the US, all broadcasting was in color, except for the
>occasional old movie. Similarly, on FM radio, all broadcasting was high
>fidelity maybe even longer ago than that, except for the occasional old
>recordings which you can hear even today.

 From Wikipedia:

All three broadcast networks were airing full color prime time 
schedules by the 1966-67 broadcast season.[33] But the number of 
color television sets sold in the U.S. did not exceed black and white 
sales until 1972, which was also the first year that more than fifty 
percent of television households in the U.S. had a color set.[34] 
This was also the year that "in color" notices before color 
television programs ended, due to the rise in color television set 

Sorry to have to tell you this Bert, but there is MUCH MORE to 
broadcasting in the U.S. than Prime Time - 21 hours a day to be 
precise. And local stations program more than half of these 
non-prime-time hours, often with syndicated programming that is 

I graduated from college in 1970. The first station I worked for had 
just upgraded to color. In 1971 I move to Tampa and worked at a 
station that had color cameras and film chain, but no color tape 
machine capability; they bought the first IVC 1" color tape machines 
in 1973.

It was well into the '70s before all stations had color production 
capabilities, and many B&W syndicated programs were aired though the 
'80s. You can still watch many of these shows on Nick at Night - 
sorry, I forgot that you only get OTA stations.

The BIG breakthrough for local color production was the  "color 
under" U-matic tape machine which was standardized in 1970. But most 
stations stayed away from the original U-matic, at least until 
digital Time-base correctors became affordable. U-Matic was infamous 
for expanding the blanking interval because of the way that the 
system locked-up and synchronized, and the the FCC blanking police 
were citing stations for having visible blanking edges in their 
broadcasts. In the early '80s, Sony introduced the High-Band BVU 
series, which many stations adopted for ENG work - the lug-able 
portable recorder could be held with a shoulder strap and connected 
to a portable camera. Some stations waited until the mid '80s, when 
Betacam became popular to upgrade their local newscasts to color.

>That's the trend for DTV as well. Slowly, HD takes over more and more of
>the shows that were once only SD. Even our local news, from WUSA-DT, is
>wide screen and HD these days. Even if you think that news isn't
>"worthy" of being HD.

It's not what I think. It's what the audience thinks. It's all about

There was a time when competition between stations was a big deal - 
before cable. It was not uncommon to see one station upgrade to a new 
technology - like color or stereo - then the rest of the stations in 
the market would quickly upgrade for competitive reasons.  This has 
not happened with the digital back-end infrastructure for stations 
and it is not happening with HDTV. The major reason for this - IMHO - 
is that local news ratings continue to decline to the point where for 
many stations, local news is now a cost, rather than a profit center. 
It is very difficult to justify the expense of upgrading to HDTV news 
production when you are losing money on the proposition.

This is further exacerbated by the fact that MOST of the remaining 
local news audience is now retired, and in most cases, less likely to 
perceive the need to upgrade their TV to HDTV. There is a reason that 
we talk about "Aunt Emily," or similar names, for the elderly 
laggards who may be the last to switch to HD.

And yes, the need for HD in news is tenuous at best. I really do not 
need to see the complexion problems with the news readers, and 
frankly, the best news footage is now coming from private citizens 
who are capturing events with their personal camcorders, digital 
cameras, and cell phones.
We did not see live HD coming from the front lines in Afganistan and 
Iraq - we watched lower than streaming quality video being 
transmitted via satellite phones.

>It doesn't matter whether absolutely 100 percent of all material
>broadcast will be HD. What the trend will be is that virtually all
>stations and all program types will migrate to HD, simply because people
>will notice the fuzzy images of SDTV increasingly, as they buy new sets,
>and these people will start tuning out the SD shows.

And this is where we have a major disagreement. I worked late last 
evening - again - and came home to see the Country Music Awards on 
the TV in glorious 4:3 SDTV. My wife says it is too much bother to 
learn the 700 series channel numbers on our cable system where the HD 
versions of the stations can be found. You may think HD is the 
greatest thing since sliced bread, but many people think it is just 
TV... no big deal.

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