WRAL-TV Makes More High Definition History

WRAL-TV Makes More High Definition History

Since WRAL-TV received the nation’s first high definition television (HDTV) experimental license in 1996, the station has been working towards producing news solely in HD. The years of hard work have brought that dream to fruition, as WRAL will be airing the world’s first complete newscast in HD at 5:00pm this Friday, October 13th, from the North Carolina State Fair.

“Local news is all about putting the viewer on the scene, and nothing does that better than high-definition television,” said Jim Goodmon, Capitol Broadcasting President & CEO. “Our viewers will get a wider view, a clearer picture, more detail and CD-quality sound. The only thing better is
actually being there.” The picture all WRAL viewers see will be clearer than usual, even for those viewing the HD broadcast on analog sets. All viewers will notice a difference.

To herald this momentous event, WRAL-TV announced on Tuesday, October 10, a comprehensive deal with Panasonic Broadcast to convert all of its news production to HDTV. With the multi-million dollar purchase of 89 pieces of DVCPRO HD equipment and related Panasonic products, WRAL-TV will complete its news conversion to digital.

For this historic half-hour newscast, every element will be originated in the 1080i-High Definition format. Although the broadcast will take place from the N.C. State Fair, focus will also be placed on the new broadcast center at WRAL-TV, the home of the new Panasonic equipment. A preview will be given of the new 24,000 square-foot, all-digital news facility, and the benefits of high-definition will again be demonstrated.

WRAL-TV will complete its news conversion to HD beginning January 2001 when it will begin producing all of its newscasts, 5 hours of HDTV news each day, in a blend of high-definition and standard-definition formats, producing, recording and editing footage in DVCPRO HD, and then broadcasting the signal on WRAL-Digital, channel 53, and down converting to standard definition for analog channel, WRAL-TV, channel 5.

WRAL-TV already broadcasts HD on a daily basis on its digital station, WRAL-Digital. The first station in the country to broadcast in the FCC’s new digital television standard, WRAL-DT runs a loop of HD programming as well as all of
CBS’ current high-definition programming. A front-runner in the field of HD broadcasting, WRAL has had many other firsts in the field, including producing the first documentary in HD, producing sports coverage in HD and multi-casting, and now live news coverage.

CBS itself has made more major commitments to HDTV. CBS will deliver 17 of its 18 sitcoms and drama series in HDTV this season. In a deal between CBS and Panasonic Consumer Electronics, Panasonic will underwrite the cost of

transferring CBS programs to 1080i HD on the Panasonic D-5 Format in exchange for on-air promotions. Some CBS Sunday and Wednesday night movies will be transferred as well. Walker Texas Ranger is the one show not able to be converted because it’s shot on 16mm film.

CBS will produce one program in HD, Diagnosis Murder. The experimental production will be acquired on Sony HDW-F900 1080/24p HDCAM cameras, with Pansonic’s D-5 as the mastering format. The National Association of Broadcasters expressed their enthusiasm about this step. NAB Senior Vice President of Science & Technology Lynn Claudy said, “The idea of program supply in HDTV as an enabler for digital television stands on its own,” he said. Claudy focused on the market criticism the consumers won’t care about DTV until there’s something to see. CBS and WRAL are making great strides in getting beyond that argument.

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