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CNN Heads into HD Era

CNN, the first 24-hour cable news channel to hit the U.S. airwaves nearly three decades ago, this week also became the first cable news outlet to begin airing some of its content in HD. Now all it needs are HD viewers.

No cable or DBS provider initially carried the HD feeds that were available Sept. 1, but the network said it has signed carriage deals to reach 50 million households. CNN has scheduled several news specials beginning set to run later this month in HD, as well as a presidential debate in November.

One satellite provider, DirecTV, said it planned to launch CNN’s new service by as early as Sept. 16 (TV Technology, Aug. 15, 2007).

For now, mostly CNN’s New York studio content will be featured in 1080i, while remotes, recorded segments and some documentaries will continue in 4:3 SD (similar to what NBC News and ABC News do inside their partial-HD newscasts). But CNN has been in preparation for an eventual HD conversion dating back at least three years, when it began investing in its current Time Warner Building studio infrastructure in New York City. The network has been acquiring equipment that is HD-ready (or at least easily upgraded to HD).

By November, more New York-based programming on CNN HD, such as Anderson Cooper 360 and a new untitled primetime program featuring new CNN anchor Campbell Brown, will begin appearing in HD, as well.

For more details, see the Sept. 19 edition of TV Technology.