Details of Sinclair’s local HD news plans emerge

Sinclair Broadcast Group, if all goes as planned, will launch HD local newscasts within the next three to four weeks in Baltimore and Columbus, OH, and sometime this summer, follow suit in Asheville, NC, and Pensacola, FL.

Speaking with Broadcast Engineering following the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) breakfast at NAB2008 April 14, Sinclair VP engineering of operations Del Parks revealed that the station group will use the rollout at stations in its four biggest markets to evaluate its approach to HD news operations and make any midcourse corrections, if needed, before continuing the HD local news rollout in its other nine news markets.

“Broadcast TV cannot become the AM radio of the 21st Century. One way around that is to deliver as much HD content as we can,” Parks said.

The centerpiece of Sinclair’s news control room strategy is the Snell & Wilcox multi-definition production switcher, he said. With built-in up/downconversion, the switcher will allow Sinclair to work in a mixed 4:3 SD and 16:9 HD world without relying on external conversion. “What happens when you start inserting upconverters and downconverters is you get a series of delay,” he explained. “And that makes the audio problems worse. A big problem with DTV that everyone is finding out is lip-sync problems.” With built-in conversion, audio and video delay is consistent and doesn’t add to lip-syncing difficulties, he added.

For acquisition, Sinclair is at the show evaluating competitive long GOP MPEG and intraframe systems. While the broadcast group has a 20-year history with Panasonic using DVCPRO equipment, a major issue with which Sinclair is wrestling is the trade off between file size and maintaining more original image data, he said.

Following NAB2008, Sinclair also will receive four new electronic newsgathering (ENG)/satellite newsgathering (SNG) vehicles that are HD-ready, he said.

Listen to the Del Parks interview.