The long march toward HD

Because I write these editorials two months in advance of publication, I'm enjoying the hot days of summer. However, I still find time to sit in the cool of my home theater and enjoy the latest in HD entertainment. I was recently demonstrating HD for my son's father-in-law when he remarked that I sounded like a salesman on the topic. After some thought, I realized he's right. I have promoted HD for what seems like a long time.

However, not all my tirades on the benefits of HD have been well received. Some readers have vehemently disagreed (and still do) that HD is important to broadcasters. Some have called HD just a technology looking for an application.

One guy said, “Sure, HDTV may look good, but so does Cindy Crawford, and neither will appear in my living room any time soon.” Then there was Jerry, who claimed I'd “sold my soul to the digital equipment manufacturers.” He refused to believe that once the public could see HD they'd love it. He predicted there would be only two circumstances where viewers would “adopt” HD: when tuners are mandated or when there is “high-profile programming” available.

Well, Jerry, the FCC has now mandated DTV tuners in sets beginning in 2007. And I could spend the rest of this column reviewing the increasing amount of HD that's coming online.

Not all readers were negative about HD. Bob said, “Everyone who spent thousands on HD equipment this past year (myself included) is going to be furious when they turn on their local FOX DTV affiliate and see that once again, FOX has taken the cheap route to making their programming. Thanks to FOX for putting another roadblock up for HDTV. I hope all the HD viewers complain. Maybe that will prevent them from being cheap and trying to pass it off as an improvement.”

Well Bob, it seems that viewers like you and, perhaps even my open letter to the great Wizard Seetooths, did have an effect on FOX's position on HD. Recently, FOX announced they would now broadcast half of their prime time programs in HD beginning next fall, which is a complete reversal from their previous position. Oh well, better late than never.

Finally, one reader wrote; “I was re-arranging the deck chairs here at the SS KEPR and ran across the August 1982 edition of Broadcast Engineering. Of course HDTV was mentioned on the cover, and in an appropriate article inside. It was good reading now, as it was then. I then carefully re-stacked the magazine pile on the Quad machine and went on with my day.”

Okay, he's got me. Maybe I have been promoting HD too long.

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