Details of Sinclair’s local HD news plans emerge

Sinclair Broadcast Group, if all goes as planned, will launch high definition local newscasts within the next three to four weeks in Baltimore and Columbus, OH, and sometime this summer follow suit in Ashville, NC, and Pensacola, FL.

Following the Open Mobile Video Coalition breakfast at NAB2008 April 14, I spoke with Sinclair VP engineering and operations, Del Parks, who revealed the station group will use the rollout at stations in its four biggest markets to evaluate its approach to HD news operations and make any mid-course corrections, if needed, before continuing the high-def local news rollout in its other nine news markets.

“Broadcast TV cannot become the AM radio of the 21st century. One way around that is to deliver as much HD content as we can,” said Parks.

The centerpiece of Sinclair’s news control room strategy is the Snell & Wilcox multi- definition production switcher, he said. With built-in up and down conversion, the switcher will allow Sinclair to work in a mixed 4:3 SD and 16:9 HD world without relying on external conversion. “What happens when you start inserting upconverters and downconverters is you get a series of delay,” he explained. “And that makes the audio problems worse. A big problem with DTV that everyone is finding out is lip sync problems.” With built-in conversion, audio and video delay is consistent and doesn’t add to lip-syncing difficulties, he added.

For acquisition, Sinclair is at the show evaluating competitive long GOP MPEG and intraframe systems. While the broadcast group has a 20 year history with Panasonic using DVCPro equipment, a major issue with which Sinclair is wrestling is the trade off between file size and maintaining more original image data, he said.

Following NAB2008, Sinclair also will take delivery of four new electronic newsgathering (ENG)/satellite newsgathering (SNG) vehicles that are HD-ready, he said.

Listen to an audio clip from Del Parks.

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