Fox Takes HD Plunge

The lone network holdout against HDTV is coming around.

Fox Broadcasting's decision to adopt the 720p format in at least half its primetime programming by fall 2004 was greeted by HDTV enthusiasts as a major missing piece of the advanced television puzzle.

ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS and the WB as well as several national and regional cable networks and many local broadcasters have already adopted 720p or 1080i formats, leaving Fox's standard-definition widescreen "enhanced TV" presentation lagging.

Other parts of the present and potential News Corp. empire have also indicated that HDTV is in its future. Fox Sports Net recently announced it would provide HDTV programming on six of its 12 regional networks and News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch has testified to Congress that HDTV would be a big part of his plan should his attempted purchase of DirecTV go through.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell praised the move.

"I've often said that content is the engine that will drive the DTV transition forward," he said in a brief statement. "This announcement is the latest indication that the transition is beginning to shift into overdrive."