CNN HD Comes to Cablevision in Time for First HD Debate

It may not make the candidates’ positions any clearer, but viewers of DirecTV, Cablevision and a few local systems will be able to watch what CNN is calling the first presidential debate ever in HD.

Cablevision, operating primarily in the New York metro area, Wednesday became the first major cable operator to embrace CNN HD, making it available to the 800,000 HD customers among its 2.5 million iO digital service subscribers. DirecTV has already picked up the channel as part of its drive toward 100 HD channels by year’s end.

CNN’s Election Express bus will assist in HD production as it did in the CNN-YouTube Democratic debate July 23, although the audience of CNN HD was minimal at the time. A CNN-YouTube debate among Republicans is planned for Nov. 28 in St. Petersburg, Fla.

For now, CNN produces all of its New York-based programs, along with select documentaries and special events, in HD. Washington-based studio productions remain standard-definition.

Wolf Blitzer will moderate the Nov. 15 debate at University of Nevada-Las Vegas, which will also include anchor John Roberts, White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux and anchor Campbell Brown, in her CNN debut assignment.

Cablevision touts the fact that it offers subscribers HD-capable converter boxes at no extra cost over the standard box, and charges no extra fee for the HD programming.