WFTV in Orlando launches local HD news

WFTV, the ABC affiliate in Orlando, FL, launched HD news operations July 1 after more than a year of preparation.

The Cox-owned station is receiving accolades from Orlando viewers for its HD newscasts. According to station vice president and general manager Shawn Bartelt, about 8 percent of Orlando-area viewers can watch in HD — heavier than other areas of the country. Orlando cable provider Bright House has 200,000 high definition subscribers, and many have taken the time to e-mail their approval of the new HD newscasts to the station, she said.

Preparations for the HD newscast began more than a year ago, but “the heavy lifting” began in earnest about four months ago, she said. Preparations included conversion to HD studio cameras, new HD background graphics from Clearwater, FL, -based Giant Octopus, a new set and camera tests for all talent.

Field acquisition is being done in 16:9 SD and upconverted for integration into the station’s newscasts. HD news and public/affairs coverage highlights so far have included the blastoff of the Space Shuttle Discovery and production of a July 4th fireworks display from Lake Eola in downtown Orlando.

Sister station WRDQ will begin HD newscasts at 10 p.m. later this year, according to Bartelt.