Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Television Rules

Television is undergoing a sea change, being led by the powers-that-be in the US. Here in Canada, there isn't the same regulated timeframe to convert to HD or high definition, but whither the US goes, we follow, especially given that some broadcasters are so very dependent on American programming.

What's interesting though is seeing who is filming original programs and news in HD, and not just broadcasting movies and American dramas in HD. As you may have noticed, Global is the only Canadian broadcaster that doesn't show American programs in HD unless they are simulcasting with the American broadcaster. Weird and annoying. But aside from that station, the rest are at least capable of doing that minimum. However, just beaming American programs and movies in HD doesn't take much ingenuity. What is much more forward looking is actually creating one's own HD programming.

Citytv was first off the mark. Not surprising as they have a history of pioneering television programming. They broadcast their news and own programs, like CityLine or Terminal City in HD.

Just very recently, CBC joined Citytv. It broadcasts The National, The Rick Mercer Report, Air Farce, CFL games (well, ok, they've been doing that awhile), and The Nature of Things in HD, and many other programs in widescreen, like the CBC News at Six, Living in Toronto, and The Hour. The interesting difference between The National and CityNews is that for those video clips shot in the old NTSC 4:3 format, CBC often puts a funky red-and-black graphic behind it which replaces the black vertical stripes on either side. Citytv lets the stripes show.

Meanwhile, Global doesn't broadcast its award-winning flagship National news program in HD, never mind any of its other own programming. Same for CTV, that major Canadian broadcaster that has oodles of money to inhale American programming, so much so it can't broadcast it all,  and to weasel out from creating Canadian programming, except for the little bit programmed for teens and Corner Gas (debuting its new season next Monday, yay!). With all that money, it still can't film and broadcast its National news in HD, or even widescreen.

One other note: why does CBC start its new season so late? By the time their excellent Canadian shows debut, everyone's hooked on the new and returning American shows. They need to take a leaf from Fox's successful strategy of a few years ago of starting shows early when people are starved for good dramas and comedies and then stick with them through the debut of the new season as they're firmly entrenched.

So in this corner we have the HD champeens Citytv and CBC, and in that corner way back there we have the languishing HD losers Global and CTV. Bet that'll get up CTV's moneyed nose, being lumped in with their competitor Global.

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Schedule and HD Links:

CBC Toronto Schedule

CBC Television - The HDTV Picture

CityTV | TV SCHEDULE | Schedule Grid

CTV/TSN’s HD Canadian National

2 comments:

CQ said...

And here I am with an 20" TV still showing the number 3 ;)
I tried to buy a newer made-in-China 4:3 model but it hummed when plugged in (not yet turned on) AND the thin molding had a crack. The DVD player is also buggy.

I remain unimpressed with sometimes not being shown the 'letterbox' picture such as during the newshour, Cdn programs, & sports while commercials and many U.S. based programs are displayed in full - if however, not actually in more big screen friendly detail Hi-Def.

talk talk talk said...

You gotta watch those made-in-China products!

What Global did with the HD election debate picture tonight was really painful to look at. I don't know if they fixed it later or if the other networks had the same issue cause I switched to the HD CBC channel fast (CBC as I thought it would have the best integrity with showing the right picture).