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WV’s WSAZ migrates local news to HD

WSAZ has completed its move to locally produced HD news, becoming the first in the Charleston-Huntington, WV, market to do so. Others are upconverting SD footage from the field.

Don Ray, regional vice president for Gray Television and general manager at WSAZ, said the migration was the result of a multiyear, multimillion dollar project that began on February 16, 2009, when it ceased analog service. The station turned off its analog transmitter on June 12 that same year. Once upconverted, now all locally produced news programming is being broadcast in the (16x9 aspect ratio) 1080i HD format.

“Our owners, Gray Television, have made a tremendous investment in this area,” Ray said. “Because of our commitment to both ends of the market, we had to spend twice as much money as other stations would.”

WSAZ sends a “split newscast” that allows both ends of the market to watch local news designed just for them.

The move involved the installation of all new production equipment, so the station donated its existing analog and digital gear — cameras, editors, video switchers, audio consoles and studio cameras — to West Virginia State University (in Institute WV) to support its communications department.

The station will continue to offer nationally syndicated NBC programming in HD, as it has for the past two years.

For over the air viewers, the station is recommending that viewers use a combination UHF/VHF antenna for the best reception.

“Many homes have older antennas that are just VHF,” the station’s website states. “The WSAZ DTV signal is actually broadcast on a UHF channel. Regardless of where you live, your antenna should be pointed toward Milton, WV.”

The WSAZ transmission tower is located in Milton.

The website also offers tips on choosing the best antenna for where viewers live and a link to a site that shows viewers the correct direction to point their antenna.