Up until now, posters have been comparing apples and oranges, i.e., someone has an image from their local affiliate on the east coast and another has an image from their local affiliate on the west coast.
Well, I'm here to compare apples to apples by going directly to the source.
The following images are directly from the east and west ABC HD transponders. I never noticed until now, but they are using CBR and not VBR. Also the west coast has two extrra audio streams (both MPEG-2 layer II).
In a nutshell, the west coast feed is a mess. The two images that really show the problem are #5 and #7 (both from commercials because of the text).
So, here they are:East 1 West 1East 2 West 2East 3 West 3East 4 West 4East 5 West 5East 6 West 6East 7 West 7
In image 5, look at the "clock". Blow it up and you'll see the drastic difference. In image 7, enlarge any of the text and look at the pixels that make up the text. Sharp on the east feed (OK as sharp as can be for video), but fuzzy on the west feed. Specifically look at the Columbia Pictures text, and little logo, on the right.
Also notice the black vertical bar on the right side of all the west images. The video isn't being shrink, the pixels are just plain being replaced with black.
It seems that ABC is recording the east feed on some kind of inferior deck and then playing it out for the west coast.
Engineers on the forum that work at west coast ABC affiliates need to complain to ABC engineering about what they are doing, as it just plain sucks. You can use these images as proof (just don't tell them where you got them