Local CBS station responds to my inquiry about HDTV broadcasting

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Scott DeToffol, Jan 24, 2001.

  1. Scott DeToffol

    Scott DeToffol Stunt Coordinator

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    I emailed my local CBS station (WCCO - St. Paul/Minneapolis) the following questions concerning their HDTV availability. Although the response isn't great news, I appreciate the professionalism and promptness of the response. They seem to be committed. Maybe I'll see the 2002 Masters in all its high-resolution glory.
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    Subject: HDTV?
    From what I can gleam from the Internet, WCCO isn't broadcasting in HDTV yet. CBS is the most aggressive network for HDTV programming with almost all primetime shows available, including the SuperBowl. I am in the process of upgrading my personal equipment and will be able to view HDTV material soon.
    A HDTV website (titantv.com) reports that WCCO will begin broadcasting DTV signals (hopefully HDTV) in May 2001. Is this accurate?
    I am REALLY interested in viewing the 2001 Masters Golf Tournament in HDTV. Unfortunately, the tournament is in April, before the reported date for your DTV broadcasting. Any chance that WCCO will be broadcasting the Masters Tournament in HDTV? In my opinion, this broadcast could be the "killer app" for HDTV - bringing MANY people to the technology if the programming is available. And the very targeted advertising potential (affluent target audience) for viewers of the HDTV programming must be very attractive to WCCO and its advertisers.
    Thanks for your feedback.
    Scott DeToffol
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    Here is the response I received the next day:
    -----------
    Thanks for you interest in HDTV on WCCO-TV.
    I wish I could give you good news, but I am afraid that there is no possibility of WCCO broadcasting HD signals until a new HD antenna is placed on the top of the transmitting tower in Shoreview, MN.
    This 18,000 pound HDTV antenna and mount will not be in place until late spring. It has been a long and difficult process to get the tower
    strengthen to the specifications required to support such a weight load.
    As a result, I regret that there is not a way to receive the CBS Network HDTV feed of NFL Playoffs or Superbowl. As a CBS owned and operated station, WCCO is committed to bring you as much HD originated material as the network can provide, as soon as it is physically possible for
    us to transmit the signal to you.
    I look for WCCO-TV to begin HD broadcasts on channel 32, late in the spring or early this summer.
    Regretfully,
    Gary Kroger
    Chief Engineer
    WCCO-TV
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    Scott's Home Theater - By Appointment Only
     
  2. Steve_Howard

    Steve_Howard Auditioning

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    I got a similar response from the CBS affiliate here in Austin, although a bit more hostile. To make matters worse, he said it is unlikely they will broadcast in 1080i?!?!? He said it is more likely they will have several 480p channels. He claimed that it cost $12,000,000 dollars to upgrade the station and that the few grand we spend on TV's is, and I quote, "paltry." Who's this guy kidding? One commercial sponser for Survivor II cost $12,000,000. Chickenfeed to the networks. Pick up an oar and help me row, Scott. We're in the same boat.
    Steve
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  3. ken thompson

    ken thompson Second Unit

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    Unfortunately I dont think it is the network but rather the local affiliate that must broadcast HDTV for you to see it. I guarantee you there are not many local TV stations that can easily fork out $12,000,000.
     
  4. Steve_Howard

    Steve_Howard Auditioning

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    Actually, Austin's CBS affiliate is network owned. That was the reason given by the Chief Engineer at the station for the delay. CBS actually owns quite a few of their affiliates. I agree that I could understand it more if they were independent.
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  5. Pete M

    Pete M Stunt Coordinator

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    Scott-
    Thanks for reporting this. I was going to send another e-mail to Mr. Kroger, but you saved me the time. I think we can assume he is not giving us the run-around about this like the people you get on the phone if you call - I got a similar, yet more detailed, response from him last August. I posted that response back then on HTF, but apparently that message must be too old..... Anyways, here was his response back then:
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
    Thanks for your interest. Strengthening of our tower site in Shoreview continues but, the HDTV antenna that will be used by KARE, KSTP and WCCO is not yet on the tower. KSTP was able to place a temporary low power system at their studio location. Our full-power, water cooled HDTV transmitter system is not portable and has been installed and waiting for the antenna for over a year.
    Our delayed target date for HD broadcasting is November 1st. That however, was contingent on wind and weather conditions, that are a prime safety issue with this type of tower work. Structural steel diagonals and welding of tower leg joints has been completed. Recent weather and construction delays related to guy wires have put this years completion in jeopardy. 9 of the 12 guy wires are yet to be replaced and they have been averaging 1 wire per week. This will likely put us into late October. Then, the actual antenna placement requires a 45 day window to remove the existing 4,5 and 11 antennas, mount the 18,000 lb HDTV antennas on new tower tops and then replace the 4,5 and 11 antennas. During that 45 days all 3 stations must operate from their lower powered standby antennas. We do not want to risk spending 6 to 7 winter months on these standby positions with no backup.
    We will continue to work as fast as conditions will permit but, it is my best estimate that we are looking at early June of 2001 for HD broadcasts on WCCO DT channel 32.
    Gary Kroger
    Chief Engineer
    WCCO-TV
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
     
  6. Matt Perkins

    Matt Perkins Stunt Coordinator

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    Scott and Pete,
    You guys are great! Thanks for taking the time to ask the big questions. The responses you've got so far are encouraging -- hopefully, these managers will also get the message that we don't want station-bugs etched into our CRTs . . .
     
  7. Doug M

    Doug M Auditioning

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    Thanks for the info Scott. I had been under the impression that there was already some local HD content, but apparently not. I've been contemplating an HD upgrade, too, so this info is helpful.
    Doug
     
  8. Chris White

    Chris White Second Unit

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    Guys, perhaps it would make you feel better if your local affiliates used the approach ours have used. I call it the delayed flight approach.
    ME:
    Dear tv station,
    When will you begin broadcasting HDTV?
    TV STATION:
    In a few months.
    a few months later...
    ME:
    Dear tv station,
    When will you begin broadcasting HDTV?
    TV STATION:
    In a few months.
    I've stopped asking.
    ------------------
    The Whites' Home Theater Website
    Pictures, DIY Projects, Glossaries, FAQ, Links, Toshiba Tips & Tweaks
     
  9. John_Mitchell

    John_Mitchell Auditioning

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    I called my local CBS and NBC affiliates and got the news they aren't expecting to be up on HDTV until Spring of next year! But they will be full power then, not running a low-power station like many are at present.
    This points up to me, again, the utter folly of OTA HD broadcasting. Sure it's nice to get HD material in any way I can, and like the rest, I'll dutifully put up whatever antenna it takes to capture an HD signal. But it's just a crying shame that this is the way the FCC and industry have decided to go. How much more efficient it would have been to take a blank sheet of paper to the problem, rather than starting with assumptions that prevailing markets must be preserved.
    I mean, seriously, how much sense does it make to upgrade all these terrestrial stations, at megabucks apiece, when no one receives their signals (except those of us HD fans who are scrambling around to put up antennas)?? The whole country is on cable and DBS now. The powers that be could have re-engineered the whole system and saved an incredible amount of money for everyone.
    Here's one way it could have worked: Network feeds, as they are now, are carried by C and Ku band satellite to centralized distribution networks, like cable feeds in big cities, DBS head end stations, and existing OTA terrestrial stations. Restructuring legal and commercial accepted realities could result in everyone receiving virtually identical primetime programming, as we do now, but now it's repeated up from a terrestrial station, etc.
    The OTA stations could then be relieved of the duty of putting up HD signals, if they don't want to. Who cares? As long as it's distributed by cable and DBS, what difference does it make? Is it worth spending hundreds of millions of dollars to provide OTA signals when they're not technically needed?
    If pigs could fly, we might have a better world [​IMG]
    And, then there would be nothing stopping us from having HD right now, all available material, on DBS (and cable). The bandwidth is there; just drop all the LIL signals, since they won't be needed to preserve the status quo anymore.
    But instead, we have to trudge through this lengthy and expensive process of gradual integration of HD into our 1950's technological infrastructure, only to find in a few more years, that everyone is receiving their HD over cable and DBS anyway.
    Just seems incredibly absurd and wasteful, taken from a systems perspective.
     
  10. RonR

    RonR Stunt Coordinator

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    Just got a email back from my local CBS station here in Oklahoma City:
    Our plans are to be transmitting our digital signal in January 2002. We will
    not initially begin transmitting a full HD signal, but an SD signal.
    Timelines may change between now and then because of availability of tower crews. We appreciate your interest.
    [​IMG]
     

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