August 06, 1996
Contact: John L. Greene
919-847-4714 or 919-821-8555


RALEIGH, NC, AUGUST 6, 1996 — WRAL-HD, the first commercial station in the nation to broadcast high-definition, digital signals (HDTV), today demonstrated the new technology to the industry and media. Today’s demonstration was a joint exhibit by WRAL-HD and the Model Station in Washington showing the first on-air broadcast and reception of HDTV signals. WRAL-HD received the first experimental HDTV license from the Federal Communications Commission on June 19, 1996. On July 23, 1996, the new channel 32 became the first station to transmit the newly proposed HDTV signals.

James F. Goodmon, President and Chief Executive Officer of WRAL’s parent company, Capitol Broadcasting Co., Inc., said today’s demonstration of WRAL-HD is proof that private industry is ready to move forward with the proposed FCC standard for digital television. “HDTV,” he said,”is critical to the future of free, over-the-air television in America. Consumers demand the best possible product and anyone who sees HDTV will agree this is the wave of the future. The Grand Alliance standard is a viable system and superior to anything offered abroad.”

At today’s event, the company also announced plans, beginning Thursday (August 8), to tape three local events for broadcast on the new station. NHK, the Japanese network, is providing a production truck used at the Olympics for the local programs. The first production will be Thursday night’s Durham Bulls’ baseball game. A children’s special and a Raleigh concert will also be produced in HDTV while the NHK unit is in the Raleigh-Durham area. These local programs, along with programs provided by CBS and PBS, will be scheduled on the station within the next few weeks.

HDTV is a new digital technology promising wide-screen, theater-like video with a much sharper image and full wrap-around Dolby sound. The digital technology is expected to replace existing television over the next few years. The first digital home receivers are scheduled to begin production early next year.

John L. Greene, a vice-president for Capitol and its HDTV Project Manager, said a total team effort by the television industry was required to get the new channel operational. “A new Sigma transmitter was built by Florida-based Harris Corporation at its facility in England,” he said, “and air shipped to the U.S.” The Andrew Corporation designed the antenna with Zenith and Phillips developing the encoding and decoding devices. Other suppliers involved with the Raleigh project include Snell & Wilcox, JVC, and TVS. The CBS Television Network, a leader in digital TV and HDTV research, provided engineering consultants for the new station. The Public Broadcasting Service and the Advanced Television Technology Center also provided assistance and equipment.

The signal is being transmitted at an effective radiated power of 100 kilowatts from an antenna height of 1750 feet. The tower is located at Auburn, NC, about 15 miles from the WRAL-TV studios where the signals were viewed today. Goodmon said without the support and endorsement of the FCC today’s milestone event would not have been possible. In issuing the license for WRAL-HD, FCC Chairman Reed Hundt applauded the initiative of Capitol “for demonstrating to the public and industry the opportunities created by digital broadcast television.” Joseph A. Flaherty, Senior Vice President for Technology at CBS, said “the network admires the pioneering spirit and foresight of its affiliated station, WRAL-TV, in launching a digital station in Raleigh” and pledged network support to assure success of the experiment.

The first phase of the station’s operation will test signal strength in the Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville area. A regular, fixed program schedule will begin in early fall. “We plan to display limited HDTV programming for the public at receivers in retail and public outlets at first, with a broader roll out of programming in 1997, ” said Goodmon.

Capitol Broadcasting Company, Inc. is a diversified communications company which owns and/or operates WRAL-TV, WRAL-Digital, WRAL-FM, Microspace, the North Carolina News Network, DTV Plus, Wolfpack Sports Marketing, and Capitol Sports Management in Raleigh, NC; WJZY-TV and WFVT-TV in Charlotte, NC; WILM-TV in Wilmington, NC; WRAZ-TV and the Durham Bulls Baseball Club in Durham, NC; and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans Baseball Club in Myrtle Beach, SC; Capitol Broadcasting Company also founded Local TV on Satellite in Raleigh, NC.

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