MSNBC became the last of the three major news/talk cable channels to take the HD plunge this week, although most of its dayparts will continue sporting a 4:3 video window for now, within a 16:9 screen.
The planned jump to HD by the NBC Universal property was announced several months ago. Following some trial runs using its new graphics package last weekend, the news outlet began transmitting in 1080i from NBCU's headquarters in Rockefeller Center in New York City on June 29.
Under the auspices of NBC News, nearly all of the channel's daytime programming—much of which featuring new anchors and shows which also premiered on June 29—the HD layout portrays studio and field video in a 4:3 window (although occasionally deploying two side-by-side 4:3 windows for talking heads in an overall 16:9 aspect ratio).
Like CNBC, its sister station business channel, MSNBC-HD is featuring a lot of side-panel text data and graphs to fill out the 16:9 window during the day. At night, its primetime hours this week have featured mostly a 16:9 configuration for key personalities Chris Matthews, Keith Obermann and Rachel Maddow—although most field video and satellite-fed talking head interviews remain in 4:3 for now.
A ticker is used for news headlines and updates. The MSNBC logo is now situated in the upper right corner, which graphically distinguishes itself from its competitors.
Yet transmitting in 1080i is one thing; getting the HD channel into homes is another. Most cablers plan to add the new HD venue between now and the fall. Cablevision reportedly has already placed it on their basic HD tier, while Time Warner Cable says to look for it sometime in July.
Meanwhile, Cox Cable spokeswoman Erin Lambremont told HD Notebook that cabler's subs can look forward to MSNBC-HD starting to roll out across its systems "sometime later this summer." Comcast did not immediately respond to inquiries about its plans to carry MSNBC-HD.
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