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HD Broadcast Formats (1 Viewer)

Tod Golden

Stunt Coordinator
May 3, 2003
I recently purchased an RCA Scenium HD61W140 RPTV with the built in off air tuner. I am able to receive HD broadcasts through the use of a VHF/UHF Antennae. Unfortunately my cable company does not transmit HD, but is in the process of BETA testing the HD cable boxes. At this point I am unwilling to switch to satellite because I also have internet access through them.

When watching an analog program I can bring up the channel bar that shows program information. This tells me that I am watching an SD program in the 4:3 format 480i and whether the screen is normal, stretched or zoomed.

When I switch to an HD broadcast and bring up the channel bar, it tells me that I am watching an HD broadcast in 16:9 and 720p. However, the program appears to be in the 4:3 format with the black bars on each side.

Is this normal for this type of programming? Am I missing something here? I know that 720p is the best format for HD and I am impressed with the picture quality. Just a little confused here.

Any help or information is greatly appreciated.


FYI - When watching HD I am unable to switch screen modes.

Steve Schaffer

Senior HTF Member
Apr 15, 1999
Real Name
Steve Schaffer
Local HD stations don't show true HD all the time, as most of the time there is no HD programming coming in from the network. When you see the black bars on the side you are watching an upconverted 480i picture. The station takes the 4/3 aspect ratio 480i picture and adds black bars on the side and upconverts the scanrate to 720p (I'm assuming this is an ABC affilliate as all the other Networks that broadcast HD use 1080i).

The black bars are added at the station to make a 16/9 aspect ratio picture broadcast at 720p.

When you see a picture on this station with no black bars on the sides, that is true HD, not upconverted 480i, and should look much better.

ABC broadcasts most all of it's primetime sitcoms and dramas, and most movies in true HD. Reality shows and newsmagazine shows are not broadcast in HD, so they will have the black bars on the side.

Craig Robertson

Supporting Actor
May 12, 1999
what would be really helpful would be if the system would tell us the original resolution of the content as well as the broadcast format.

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