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WFTV Rolls Out HD Local News for Central Florida

WFTV became the first central Florida local broadcaster to shift its regular newscasts to HD recently, necessitating construction of a new 16:9 set, new graphics and in this weather-conscious region of the south, new weather technology that benefits from HD detail.

Figuring that seeing is believing, the station told the Orlando Sentinel (and users of the station's Web site) that viewers should make a point of visiting a local retailer to see firsthand what its local newscasts now look like in 720p, compared to their analog screens back at home.

WFTV, an ABC affiliate, is currently demonstrating its new HD programming online with streaming video. Its newscast graphics are situated within the 4:3 "sweet spot" of the new 16:9 aspect ratio for the simulcast on the broadcaster's analog and HD channels.

The station told the Sentinel its new weather services now revolve around a new Early Warning Doppler 9 HD. It's using a combination of meteorological hardware/software from Baron Services of Huntsville, Ala., and graphics from Weather Services International of Andover, Mass.

WKMG, another local broadcaster in Orlando--the DMA that boasts Disney World and other high-profile amusement parks and several million tourists annually--has also been airing its local news in 16:9 for several months, but only in SD. The CBS affiliate said it might not convert its news to HD until the mandated February 2009 analog cut-off date, according to the Sentinel.