WINK-TV kicks off local HD newscasts

WINK-TV, the Fort Myers Broadcasting-owned CBS affiliate in Fort Myers, FL, became one of the first TV stations in southwest Florida to broadcast its local news in HD with its 7 p.m. newscast Oct. 20.

The lead in to WINK-TV’s first local HD newscast was network HD coverage of the Florida-Kentucky game, a strategy chosen to capitalize on the high ratings the station anticipated for the game, so it would “come in with a bang,” said Keith Stuhlmann, station director of engineering.

The station got serious about local HD news in the spring. Stuhlmann, WINK-TV general manager Wayne Simons and special projects manager John Emmert went to NAB2007 in April on a mission to look at the technology “that would go into doing a top-notch HD newscast,” he said.

After getting approval from the owners of the privately held company, the station secured Ikegami HDK-790EX III HD studio cameras, a Snell & Wilcox Kahuna multidefinition production switcher, Kaleido-X image processor for control room monitoring, Vizrt graphics, Avid Thunder HD playout server and WSI HD weather package. Concurrent with the HD conversion was a transition from linear tape-based news production to a file-based workflow centering on Thomson Grass Valley Edius nonlinear editing and BitCentral Précis news production systems. A few years prior to the conversion, the station hired Broadcast Design International (BDI) to design a news set that would be 16:9-ready for the eventual conversion of its news to HD.

The station is replacing its DVCPRO cameras with Panasonic P2 tapeless camcorders. According to Stuhlmann, that conversion will take about month to complete. At that point, electronic newsgathering (ENG) shots will be done in 16:9 SD and upcoverted in the Kahuna switcher for the station’s HD audience. Additionally, once WINK-TV completes its 2GHz Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) relocation and receives its new digital microwave equipment, it will consider evolving its field acquisition to HD.

Fort Myers Broadcasting also operates WXCW, the Sun Broadcasting-owned CW affiliate in town. On the same day the station launched WINK news in HD, it also kicked off WINK in HD on the CW at 10 p.m.