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KVOA to launch local newscast in HD

KVOA-TV, the Cordillera Communications NBC affiliate in Tucson, AZ, will launch its local newscast in HD this spring.

The station will become the first southern Arizona TV station to broadcast its local newscasts in HD.

Several factors make this the right time to launch a local HD newscast, said station president and general manager Gary Nielsen. The falling prices of HDTV sets, the February 2009 analog shutoff and the presence of the network's "Today" show in HD and its launch next week of "The NBC Nightly News" make now the right time, he said.

The conversion to HD is a multimillion-dollar project, according to Cordillera VP of engineering & operations Andy Suk. The project will include the addition of Panasonic HD studio cameras, Fujinon HD lenses, Harris' Leitch HD servers and a Ross Video multiformat production switcher.

The station's weathercast will also benefit from the HD conversion. True View HD by WSI will be the centerpiece of the new weather presentation. Additionally, the station has turned to Broadcast Design International to create a news set designed to maximize the HD experience.

Field acquisition will be done in 16:9 SD at 50Mb/s with Panasonic P2 camcorders and upconverted to 1080i. The station, which is concurrently moving forward with its 2GHz digital TV BAS relocation, will pursue the SD upconversion strategy for reports from the field until the next generation of native HD field cameras becomes available, Nielsen said.

Being first in the market to produce an HD newscast positions the station to maintain loyal viewers and attract new audience members, he said. Still, image quality cannot take the place of quality broadcast journalism. "Technology can never replace great content," Nielsen said. "But it certainly can enhance the experience of our viewers and make watching more enjoyable."

For more information on the KVOA-TV transition to HD news and that of its sister station, WLEX-TV in Lexington, KY, see: "KVOA-TV, WLEX-TV to use Synergy 4 MC-X switchers for local HD newscast."