Cable/Broadcaster Disputes Deny HD Super Bowl to Some

February 2, 2005
Some proud owners of new HDTV sets who want to watch this Sunday's Super Bowl in HD have discovered that they will not be able to see the game in HD after all. Sinclair Broadcasting and Comcast are in a dispute, which has resulted in no carriage of the broadcaster's HDTV signal by the cable company. In a nutshell, Comcast does not want to pay the carriage fee that Sinclair is asking for the signal. In fact, Sinclair reports that none of the cable operators in the 20 markets where it owns a Fox station have agreed to the fee.

Nor are the companies mentioned the only ones embroiled in this type of dispute. Carriage of the analog NTSC signals on cable has at this juncture been pretty well worked out, but carriage agreements for DTV signals are being hammered out one-by-one (although the NCTA reported an agreement with public broadcasters this week to carry up to four of their multicast signals). For commercial broadcasters and cable, both sides are a little more willing to hold out for a better deal on the DTV/HDTV signals, because of the relatively small segment of viewing audience currently involved.

As for the distraught HDTV viewers who are looking forward to seeing the Super Bowl in "crystal clear HD with 5.1 channel sound" rather than as an up-converted NTSC signal, but are thwarted by their cable companies, it is probably a little too late to get DBS reception installed. But here is a concept to ponder. What about an antenna? There might even be one up on the roof already.

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