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CBS does HD In what appeared to be an eleventh hour move, Panasonic stepped in to underwrite the HDTV broadcasts of the majority of CBS's primetime programming for the upcoming 2000-2001 television season. Because CBS appears to be the only network to be taking HDTV seriously, this goes a long way in preserving the HDTV presence by at least one network into the American home.

Panasonic is taking over the sponsorship after Mitsubishi, which underwrote CBS's HDTV broadcasts last season, backed out earlier this summer. The sponsorship covers all but one of CBS's 18 primetime entertainment programs. "Walker - Texas Ranger" is the only entertainment show not in the HDTV lineup. CBS will also be broadcasting selected CBS Sunday and Wednesday Night Movies in HDTV.

The majority of the lineup, which features 14 hours of weekly programming on 17 of CBS's primetime entertainment series, will be broadcasting in 1080i. "Diagnosis Murder," meanwhile, will be acquired on high-definition video in 1080/24p, rather than 35mm film, the traditional acquisition medium for episodic television.

All of this effort will be broadcast on 31 of CBS's owned and affiliated stations currently broadcasting in digital, covering approximately 45 percent of the U.S. By the end of the year, CBS expects to be transmitting digital programming from 39 stations, reaching approximately 56 percent of the U.S.

This is Panasonic's second major HDTV sponsorship in the past two years. Last season, the company sponsored the HD broadcasts of ABC's Monday Night Football and the 2000 Super Bowl. ABC has decided to abandon the HDTV version of Monday Night Football.