Broadcasters Garner HDTV Sponsors

ABC and CBS have signed up some familiar names to underwrite the networks' HDTV programming for the upcoming season.

Zenith will sponsor the HDTV programming costs for ABC and will partner with Samsung to sponsor hi-def costs for CBS. In addition, ABC says it will expand its HDTV lineup to include all scripted series and theatrical movies for the 2002-2003 season, totaling 13 hours per week. ABC began showing the majority of its primetime schedule in HD last season.

Beginning with the new broadcast season next month, Zenith will be identified through an on-air billboard as ABC's HDTV sponsor at the beginning of ABC's HD programs, all of which are broadcast in 720p high definition, including 5.1-channel Surround Sound.

CBS is in its fourth year of broadcasting the majority of its primetime lineup in the 1080i HD format. The Tiffany network, which has expanded the scope of its HD programming over that period, says all its primetime comedies and dramas will be shown in hi-def this year.

This is the second year in a row that Zenith has helped to sponsor the CBS lineup. Samsung, which in the past has sponsored individual HD broadcasts of movies and sports, is a new CBS primetime sponsor.

Eighty-three of CBS's owned and affiliated stations are currently broadcasting in digital, covering 72 percent of the U.S. By the end of this year, CBS expects to expand that number to more than 100 owned and affiliated stations, reaching well over 83 percent of the country.