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TV Guide Letter Disparages Widescreen Content


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#1 of 15 Andy W

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Posted July 10 2003 - 05:16 AM

Although some discussion of this has appeared on page 2 of this HTF thread, I thought this was relevant enough to have its own thread so more members would be likely to see it. (I’m not sure if this topic belongs here in the Software forum or the TV and HDTV Programming forum.)

Here is the full text of the anti-widescreen letter published in the July 12-18, 2003, issue of TV Guide. The letter is titled “Feeling Boxed In”.

(Begin letter) “Jeers to the networks for using the letterbox format on some of my favorite shows, including ER and The West Wing. The public buys larger TVs and the programs are cut almost in half. Let’s get back to full-screen viewing.” (End letter)

I say jeers Posted Image to TV Guide for publishing this letter and giving credibility to the author’s anti-widescreen notions. It’s time to write a well crafted, polite, concise, yet strong rebuttal letter, and see if TV Guide publishes it.

Although I am not a journalist, I understand that a good editor will cover multiple sides of an issue to encourage thought and debate. Let’s see if TV Guide responds accordingly.

Any others willing to write TV Guide?

#2 of 15 Jack Briggs

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Posted July 10 2003 - 05:26 AM

Even with major magazines, you'd be surprised at just how few letters to the editor come in each month. If they are remotely reasonable, and not written by a crackpot, the magazine will print nearly every single one of 'em.

So, it's simply a letter-writer voicing his displeasure. No big deal. But TV Guide itself, as I said in the linked thread, issued one of its weekly "jeers" to the increasing practice of showing original television programming in widescreen.

Remember, it's not an A/V-enthusiasts' publication.

But it has never editorially condemned the showing of widescreen films in a letterboxed format.

Also, the magazine issued one of its most bluntly worded weekly "jeers" to the now-universal practice of displaying "station-bug" logos continuously.

#3 of 15 Chris Lockwood

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Posted July 10 2003 - 05:33 AM

Why does anyone even bother with TV Guide any more when you can get TV listings free online or in the newspaper?

#4 of 15 Eric Peterson

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Posted July 10 2003 - 05:46 AM

Why does anyone even bother with TV Guide any more when you can get TV listings free online or in the newspaper?


My thoughts exactly. I doubt that I've bought one or even used one in 7+ years. I do subscribe to the TCM newsletter so that I get advance notice of classic films and to help support the greatest channel known to man.

#5 of 15 Scott_F_S

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Posted July 10 2003 - 06:30 AM

First of all, printing a letter from a reader is the editorially responsible thing to do at any publication -- no matter what side the writer takes on an issue.

Secondly, I have a problem with the whole argument that widescreen is better than fullscreen no matter what. Widescreen has no intrisically better value than fullscreen, or vice versa. It's an artistic choice made by the director or, in the case of TV, the show's creator. Let the director or the creator use the format he/she chooses, and then give it to me in that format. I no more want to see a widescreen presentation of a full-screen production than I want to see a full-screen version of a movie shot in widescreen.

I have lost all respect for the folks at DVD File for that very reason. They call themselves OAR advocates, yet they editorially condone widescreen releases of Buffy seasons.

#6 of 15 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted July 10 2003 - 06:51 AM

I don't see what the huge problem is with the reader's comments. Considering that the vast, vast, vast majority of televisions in the U.S. are 4x3, it's natural that that should be the ratio of choice when composing shots. This isn't like pan and scanning widescreen movies for home video. This is a question of how shows are composed to begin with.
That said, if a show's showrunners decide to compose 16x9 for their HDTV audience, I think it should be matted as such for the NTSC broadcasts.

#7 of 15 Ken Chan

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Posted July 10 2003 - 08:34 AM

Quote:
printing a letter from a reader is the editorially responsible thing to do at any publication -- no matter what side the writer takes on an issue.
Ideally it should reflect the ratio of opinion. If it's 10 to 1, print 10 on one side and 1 of the other, or print one of each and mention the ratio. It's dishonest to print one of each for "balance" and not mention that the response was completely unbalanced. Of course, in this case, there may have been just that one letter.

Quote:
Why does anyone even bother with TV Guide any more when you can get TV listings free online or in the newspaper?
Some people don't get the newspaper. Newspaper listings aren't as detailed. You can't see what's playing during the week ahead. Some people don't have computers, or computers near the TV, or have the computers on when they want to look something up. Some people like the editorial content of TV Guide, the magazine portion.

Quote:
the programs are cut almost in half
But see, the program is not cut in half, it's shrunk because the aspect ratios blah blah blah. The problem is that the complaint is to-the-point but inaccurate; whether the writer actually knows the difference is an open question. To explain it properly to people that don't know, you almost need charts and graphs. Like the world in general, it's more complicated than the average person cares to consider.

//Ken

#8 of 15 Jeff Kleist

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Posted July 10 2003 - 08:44 AM

Quote:
That said, if a show's showrunners decide to compose 16x9 for their HDTV audience, I think it should be matted as such for the NTSC broadcasts.


Frankly, I've seen no show better than Angel to really take the 16:9 frame and do something with it. The show consistantly features masterful lighting and cinematography better than most motion pictures. Of course, the Emmys totally ignore it anyway

Even if you've never seen the show, check it out. You will be quite impressed

#9 of 15 Chris Lockwood

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Posted July 10 2003 - 12:57 PM

> Newspaper listings aren't as detailed. You can't see what's playing during the week ahead.

You've never seen a Sunday paper TV book? Pretty similar to TV Guide, & the whole paper is cheaper than the mag.

#10 of 15 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted July 10 2003 - 04:23 PM

Quote:
Frankly, I've seen no show better than Angel to really take the 16:9 frame and do something with it. The show consistantly features masterful lighting and cinematography better than most motion pictures. Of course, the Emmys totally ignore it anyway
On occasion, I have since my mom's is/was a big fan. One episode I remember was set in like a colonial era period or whatever involving the vampire that bit him, and the cinematography was awesome. E.R.'s cinematography tends to be better since they switched to matted, with varying degrees of improvement depending on the episode and who's filming it. Smallville seems to work equally well either way from the pilot, with an edge to the widescreen for the establishing shots and an edge to the 4x3 for the closeups. Everwood, while having a much cooler opening credit sequence it widescreen, is much more suited to the intimacy that the 4x3 frame provides.

I've said it before and I'll say it again; pick a ratio and stick with it. matte 16x9 programs on NTSC and side bar 4x3 programs in HDTV.

#11 of 15 MarkHastings

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Posted July 11 2003 - 02:13 AM

Quote:
Remember, it's not an A/V-enthusiasts' publication.
Exactly.

As others have alluded to, most HT enthusiasts have their Tivo's, ReplayTV's, Digital Cable guides, satellite guides, etc.

No need for us to pick up a hard copy of any tv listing.

#12 of 15 BrianW

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Posted July 11 2003 - 04:46 AM

Quote:
If they are remotely reasonable, and not written by a crackpot, the magazine will print nearly every single one of 'em.
I had no idea this was the case. This could finally be the key to my success in getting "published."

I'd better get writing.

Oh, wait... I forgot. I'm a crackpot.
-Brian
Come, Rubidia. Let's blow this epoch.

#13 of 15 Jack Briggs

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Posted July 11 2003 - 05:42 AM

Yeah, but you're a nice crackpot!

#14 of 15 Steve Phillips

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Posted July 11 2003 - 07:35 AM

Not that debating the significance of TV Guide is the subject of this thread, but I have yet to see a newspaper TV suppliment that lists all 300 channels I get on Digital Cable like the TV Guide Ultimate Cable edition does. For $3.99 a month (more at newsstands) it can't be beat.

#15 of 15 Ken Chan

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Posted July 11 2003 - 08:51 AM

Quote:
You've never seen a Sunday paper TV book?
Oh, right. Still not as detailed.

//Ken


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