||Political Convention Coverage Goes Digital
Move over CSPAN, WRAL-DT has hit the campaign trail. With the political scene heating up in anticipation of the two major national political conventions, WRAL-DT is linking up with the Japanese network NHK to provide live feed of the events.
For the first time ever, digital television viewers in the Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville area will be able to watch full High Definition (HDTV) of the coverage conventions. WRAL-DT will provide gavel-to-gavel coverage of the conventions to those viewers equipped to receive HDTV programming from their cable system or by way of an antenna. The Republican National Convention (GOP) will begin airing live from Philadelphia at 10:00am EST on Monday, July 31. This special HDTV coverage will span four days, ending with coverage of the closing session on the evening of August 3. Gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles will also be broadcast on WRAL-DT August 14-17.
WRAL-DT is working in conjunction with NHK for this event. NHK is producing the gavel-to-gavel coverage at each convention site, and then transmitting the signal to WRAL-DT and other stations via digital satellite. WRAL-DT will downlink the HD feed at its transmitter site in Auburn, feed it back to the studios, and air it on channel 53’s main digital channel. While WRAL-DT will have no anchors or commentators at the conventions, they will be locally producing a message to insert each hour.
WRAL-DT and NHK have a history of working well together. The two collaborated with the Harris Corporation to broadcast the John Glenn space launch in HD in October of 1998, marking the official national debut of HDTV. The 70-minute live telecast from the Kennedy Space Center was broadcast by more than 15 stations around the country, including WRAL-HD (the original call letters for WRAL-DT). NHK also loaned WRAL one of their trucks to do a baseball game and a football game the first year WRAL was in HD. When NHK approached WRAL with the idea of broadcasting the national political conventions, WRAL readily agreed to help.