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'Good Morning America' Going HD this Fall

ABC News announced this week that "Good Morning America" will begin airing in HD seven days a week, apparently starting soon after Labor Day. The 720p debut of GMA will mark the first time that a daily commercial broadcast network news program will be broadcast in HD, and comes at a time when the ABC morning show with Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer is making a serious move to pull even in the ratings with the long-reigning "Today" program from NBC News.

With only a few hundred-thousand Nielsen homes now separating both shows, it will be interesting to note how the technical advance to HD may affect GMA's overall numbers, if at all. ABC News has some experience in the HD realm, having provided live HD coverage of the 2005 Presidential Inauguration in January (including a 3-hour GMA in HD that day), and this year's prime time State of the Union address, as well as a Peter Jennings special on UFOs earlier this year.

In September 2001, the network began broadcasting the majority of its primetime schedule in 720p, including all its sitcoms, drama series and theatrical movies. In the nearly concluded 2004-05 season, ABC has broadcast more than 440 hours of HD programming. According to the Disney-owned network, 130 of its owned and affiliated stations are now broadcasting digitally (covering more than 80 percent of the United States), with 102 of those stations broadcasting in HD.