ABC O&O's destroy HD quality with launch of Live Well HD. - Page 4 - AVS Forum
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post #91 of 354 Old 04-28-2009, 02:15 PM
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sansri, it is nice that Bill Beam responded but his response was corporate BS. I have gotten the same response before from ABC people. They know damn well what the impact is with this 720p subchannel and simply don't care. In today's tough economic climate, they are trying to squeeze as much money as they can out of their signal. Until a lot of people complain, things will just get worse. FRankly, there are far too many channels to choose from as it is. Adding another channel won't even make a ripple. I don't see why broadcasters like ABC waste their time with subchannels.
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post #92 of 354 Old 04-28-2009, 02:35 PM
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I had an engineer one time tell me all he saw was ringing on a players helmet. This is on CBS that was sending out 14 mpbs. Come to find out he was looking at a 19 inch monitor.

they will all say they don't see the degradation as much as you do.

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post #93 of 354 Old 04-28-2009, 02:59 PM
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Maybe I'm 'lucky' as it were, but I checked out LiveWell TV on WJRT (ch 12, Flint, MI.) and they are sending it at 480i not 720P. For SD, it isn't too bad. However, they are pulling the stretch-o-vision bit like on their main channel. In standard wide screen mode, there are black bars on top and bottom and everyone looks short and fat... not quite 16:9. Shrink to fit, it is a bit wider than 4:3. No way to completely format the screen to make it look normal... Annoying! Plus the audio sync is off by at least a tenth of a second. At least I have WXYZ (ch 7 Detroit) as my main ABC affilliate. They seem to devote less bandwidth to their two subchannels running local weather and RetroTV.

Well correction to this post. The next LiveWell program came on. They are using the full screen at 480i. Looks like a pile of steaming feces! Audio sync is still off however.
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post #94 of 354 Old 04-28-2009, 03:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sansri88 View Post

Full text of email from Bill Beam. It's nice that he replied, WCBS, WPIX, and WNBC never responded to inquiries I had with them. WNYW is amazing, Al the station engineer responds every time.

Quote:


Sriram,

Thank you for writing. We are closely monitoring the quality of our primary 7-1 channel with the change in 7-2 from 480i to 720p, and are not seeing the type of deterioration that you describe. As you mention below, the challenge is work within the fixed 19Mbps ATSC signal, but the allocations between the channels are dynamic, not fixed, with the demands of the 7-1 signal given priority over the other channels. We will continue to evaluate these signal quality issues so that the impact these additional services have on our primary HD signal will be minimal.

If possible, you should also look at our over-the-air DTV signal. While we have been working closely with the major cable and satellite providers, we have not been able to evaluate yet what impact, if any, this service change may be having on their systems and equipment.

Bill Beam

This plot map provided by dr1394 in the San Francisco thread of KGO(ABC O&O) seems to contradict that. It looks as if when 7.2(LiveWell-HD) needs more BW, it's snatching it from the primary channel(7.1).

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post #95 of 354 Old 04-28-2009, 03:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bozzmonster View Post

Maybe I'm 'lucky' as it were, but I checked out LiveWell TV on WJRT (ch 12, Flint, MI.) and they are sending it at 480i not 720P.

Just wait.

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post #96 of 354 Old 04-28-2009, 03:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken H View Post

Just wait.

Indeed, I thought the thing same on Sunday, then Monday rolled around, and bang - two 720p channels now showed in the stream.
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post #97 of 354 Old 04-28-2009, 03:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keenan View Post

This plot map provided by dr1394 in the San Francisco thread of KGO(ABC O&O) seems to contradict that. It looks as if when 7.2(LiveWell-HD) needs more BW, it's snatching it from the primary channel(7.1)

I sincerely hope you get an email that says, "Whoops, I accidentally set it backwards. Thanks!" and the next graph will look right.

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post #98 of 354 Old 04-28-2009, 04:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scowl View Post

I sincerely hope you get an email that says, "Whoops, I accidentally set it backwards. Thanks!" and the next graph will look right.

Dont bet on it.
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post #99 of 354 Old 04-28-2009, 04:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sansri88 View Post

Full text of email from Bill Beam.

Quote:


Sriram,

Thank you for writing. We are closely monitoring the quality of our primary 7-1 channel with the change in 7-2 from 480i to 720p, and are not seeing the type of deterioration that you describe. As you mention below, the challenge is work within the fixed 19Mbps ATSC signal, but the allocations between the channels are dynamic, not fixed, with the demands of the 7-1 signal given priority over the other channels. We will continue to evaluate these signal quality issues so that the impact these additional services have on our primary HD signal will be minimal.

If possible, you should also look at our over-the-air DTV signal. While we have been working closely with the major cable and satellite providers, we have not been able to evaluate yet what impact, if any, this service change may be having on their systems and equipment.

Bill Beam

As mx6bfast alluded to, it's not shocking that he didn't notice a difference in picture quality. Pixel sizes on smaller HDTV sets are too small to appreciate the advantage of higher bitrates. He'd probably understand what you're talking about if he was watching an OTA feed of an NBA game, on a 52" LCD or 61" DLP set.
___________________________________

I'm wondering: Is Live Well being carried on SD digital cable, or high-def cable only? I'd think that since most the viewers out there still are on SD sets, Disney would put the channel on SD cable to maximise revenue opportunity.

Also, how would cable providers deliver an SD Live Well feed to viewers? For example, with Verizon FiOS TV, I've noticed that to get SD versions of local channels, Verizon takes OTA HD feeds, center-cut them, and re-encode at SD resolution. Comcast and other larger cable providers might do the same thing, although I don't know.

In any case, this Sunday, I was flipping between an ABC NBA game, and a FOX NASCAR race, on FiOS (SD set-top box connected to a 36" SD set). Our local ABC station, WJLA, isn't an ABC O&O, but for whatever reason, has an HD feed that is set to top out at 12.5 Mbps. With the ABC game, it was surprising how heavy the picture got dull and blocky in graphic sweeps. There was always noticeable artifacting whenever a strobe flash went off, or even with milder camera motion. There were times where the artifacting was so heavy, the scorebox at the bottom was unintellible. (Meanwhile, the FOX race, heavy motion and all, always looked fine.)

Anyway, I can't help but think that if FiOS takes the Live Well HD feed like they take the current HD feeds, the SD picture quality of Live Well will be practically unwatchable by any reasonable standards. So to maximize cable SD picture quality for Live Well, ABC will need to either a) give a higher bitrate for the HD OTA feed (which isn't feasible), or b) provide a standard-def feed to the cable companies. The encoding arrangement that I mentioned on the first page of this thread only makes more sense now.
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post #100 of 354 Old 04-28-2009, 04:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mason View Post

Not sure that's the case. If full 24p pulldown is used, to match the required 720/60p broadcast rate, it would include all the frames. Also not sure if MPEG repeat-frame encoding is regularly used for 720/60p broadcasts. -- John

Repeat-frame flagging is possible in the NetVX, but it breaks a number of decoders, apparently including those used by E* for HD LILs. Check the archives for the complains about jerky video on WLS Chicago and WSB Atlanta, both of whom traced the problem back to the repeat frame settings being used in their respective NetVXes.
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post #101 of 354 Old 04-28-2009, 05:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikemikeb View Post

I'm wondering: Is Live Well being carried on SD digital cable, or high-def cable only? I'd think that since most the viewers out there still are on SD sets, Disney would put the channel on SD cable to maximise revenue opportunity.

It's not up to Disney where the channel is placed; that would be up to the carrier.

Quote:


Also, how would cable providers deliver an SD Live Well feed to stations? For example, with Verizon FiOS TV, I've noticed that to get SD versions of local channels, Verizon takes OTA HD feeds, center-cut them, and re-encode at SD resolution.

If they wanted a SD version of an OTA HD channel, that would be the way they would do it. On most cable systems, I would not expect that to happen; I would expect to see the HD version only.

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post #102 of 354 Old 04-28-2009, 05:26 PM
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HD version only in the San Francisco market, although it currently resides in the channel map(guide) area set aside for sub-channels instead of in the HD local channel numbers.
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post #103 of 354 Old 04-28-2009, 05:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken H View Post

Just wait.

Unfortunately, I don't have a PC to analyze the data stream, but I can confirm that if I switch between the main HD feed on WJRT vs WXYZ, WJRT looks 'softer'. Then, if I switch back to Fox to view American Idol their 720P feed looks much sharper in comparison with either one. WJRT 12-2 still shows 480i. Maybe they're pulling bandwidth already from 12-1 in preparation for 720P on 12-2? Both WJRT and WXYZ run two subs. So... I can only imagine the crapola quality I'll have to view on 12-1 once WJRT throttles 12-2 up to 720P.

Let's just say I'm waiting, but I'm not too excited by the possibilities.

I really need to install a tuner in my PC so I can analyze this stuff like you guys do!
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post #104 of 354 Old 04-28-2009, 07:10 PM
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I'm going to take a still from Jimmy Kimmel Live monologue tonight and post that with a still from the first HD show monologue.

The difference should be an amazing down grade in quality.
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post #105 of 354 Old 04-28-2009, 08:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by posg View Post

I know that I'll simply be watching less ABC, and I seriously doubt that Live Well TV will find much of an audience. It's programming niche is already well if not overfilled.

But is someone going to stop watching Desperate Housewives or Grey's Anatomy because the PQ sucks? I doubt it.

Meanwhile every penny that Live Well brings in is one cent the O&Os weren't making before and helps pay for the "never going to get that money back" HD infrastructure upgrades.

Seriously - 99% of the public won't care, or if they do will just grumble about it, and those who do aren't a loud enough voice to matter.

Between Live Well and the fact that many NBC affiliates are now showing not only a version of Weather Plus but have added NBC Universal sports, it's becoming clearer all the time that many of us early adopters were absolutely correct when we said we'd seen the best OTA HD would ever look, and those days are gone forever.

It's only a matter of time before CBS forces a subchannel down their affliiates' throats as well, and most PBS channels are already split up into three or four subchannels showing "V-Me" and "Create" along with what was the once reference quality PBS HD.

Finally, as mentioned a page or so back, the stations will never "notice" internally because their control rooms all still have mini-monitors even at 16:9 for viewing; if they're lucky they might have a 32" on the wall.

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post #106 of 354 Old 04-28-2009, 09:20 PM
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Speaking of weak bitrates, I recorded NCIS tonight and just noticed that the edited mpg file which is 42:57 long was only 3.36 GB, approx 10.5 Mbps.
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post #107 of 354 Old 04-28-2009, 09:32 PM
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Many stations I know have larger HD monitors in the newroom, management offices, as well as the lobby. Most chiefs have one in their engineering office too. They choose to ignore the obvious!
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post #108 of 354 Old 04-28-2009, 09:46 PM
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Here's another example of how bad the PQ is on WABC-DT.
On the left is a still from the first HD show, on the right is a still from tonight.
Both come from the direct stream via QAM.
On the first sample you can see the lack of detail on the chair and on the second one the abc logo and the rest of the image is softer.
I can understand increased artifacting but why would the lack of bandwidth cause the whole image to go soft?

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post #109 of 354 Old 04-28-2009, 10:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bozzmonster View Post

Unfortunately, I don't have a PC to analyze the data stream, but I can confirm that if I switch between the main HD feed on WJRT vs WXYZ, WJRT looks 'softer'. Then, if I switch back to Fox to view American Idol their 720P feed looks much sharper in comparison with either one. WJRT 12-2 still shows 480i. Maybe they're pulling bandwidth already from 12-1 in preparation for 720P on 12-2? Both WJRT and WXYZ run two subs. So... I can only imagine the crapola quality I'll have to view on 12-1 once WJRT throttles 12-2 up to 720P.

Let's just say I'm waiting, but I'm not too excited by the possibilities.

I really need to install a tuner in my PC so I can analyze this stuff like you guys do!

You just discovered this? WJRT has been soft for YEARS. If you want to see something even worse try WLAJ ABC Lansing, they are the pits. For most of the winter I was stuck watching Flint stations and now that I can turn my antenna I am very aware of just how bad they all look. Flipping over to WXYZ was like washing the windows or getting new glasses.

My suggestion? Skip complaining to the network and stations and go straight to the advertisers. Pepper ATT and General Mills and who ever with comments about how their commercials look so bad and how it's a shame they had to cut costs so much that their ads look this way. Inquire if they are lessening the quality of their product too since they don't have money for good looking commercials.
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post #110 of 354 Old 04-29-2009, 03:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken H View Post

On most cable systems, I would not expect [an SD version of Live Well] to happen; I would expect to see the HD version only.

I still believe that the HD-only approach would not be a good business model for both the cable company and Disney; way too many sets are still SD-only. Besides, would Comcast be willing to tell their SD customers, "Yes, you can get the channel with your standard-def TV, if you were to get a coupon box and pick up the station for free with an antenna -- sorry; we won't offer it to you, anyway." What kind of a sane company would do that?

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Originally Posted by icemannyr View Post

Here's another example of how bad the PQ is on WABC-DT.
....

I can understand increased artifacting but why would the lack of bandwidth cause the whole image to go soft?

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More modern encoders attempt to blur the image as much as possible before it creates blocking. Speaking of screenshots, this post has screenshot attachments of Live Well and ABC proper (from KABC-DT, over-the-air). The ones to especially note are the "7-2" and "7-1-SD" screencaps: The first is from a Live Well cooking show, the second one shows an upconverted 480i scene on the primary channel. Compare the per-pixel detail in the chef's outfit, and the woman's plaid shirt; there isn't an immediate and obvious difference in sharpness between the two pictures. Isn't HD supposed to "pop" at you?

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Originally Posted by kucharsk View Post

It's only a matter of time before CBS forces a subchannel down their affliiates' throats as well

Not necessarily; CBS has long insisted upon a "quality over quantity" approach; I doubt they'd change their minds now. The only thing that could change their minds is ATSC M/H, which would provide a mobile simulcast of CBS programming. Done right, that stream will leave 16.1 Mbps for HD video. (I explained it further in a long post here.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by kucharsk View Post

Meanwhile every penny that Live Well brings in is one cent the O&Os weren't making before and helps pay for the "never going to get that money back" HD infrastructure upgrades.

Actually, it wouldn't be a total loss in infrastructure costs for Disney if they mandate the HD version as cable-only.
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post #111 of 354 Old 04-29-2009, 03:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kucharsk View Post

But is someone going to stop watching Desperate Housewives or Grey's Anatomy because the PQ sucks? I doubt it.

Meanwhile every penny that Live Well brings in is one cent the O&Os weren't making before and helps pay for the "never going to get that money back" HD infrastructure upgrades.

I will continue to watch "Lost", but I will avoid sampling new ABC shows. I suspect many here feel the same. In fact I'll bet there may actually be more ABC defectors than Live Well viewers, not that there will be many of either.

"Every penny that Live Well brings in" does not offset every dollar that goes out. This thing will not attract enough viewers to justify its costs. It is weak programming with terrible picture quality in an programming genre that's already full. Oh yeah, in a really bad economy.
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post #112 of 354 Old 04-29-2009, 04:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikemikeb View Post

Isn't HD supposed to "pop" at you?

That use to be the general rule of thumb and expectation until the cable and satellite companies started messing with the quality to add more channels and the multicasting desire has now sunk to new lows.

Ah, I remember the virgin days when I use to put on my HD set and see crisp, bright images that just had you mesmerized, even the crappiest programs you would sit around and watch, now its like meh, whatever. As many have said it could only have gotten worse since those days of the early HD adoption. Now the norm is to expect artifacts, faded colors, blurring, garbled text and soft image quality.

I was watching Andrew Bourdain - No Reservations on Travel Channel HD here on Cablevision in NYC. Folks I felt like I needed a pair of bifocals to make out the details, when this channel was first added by CV, the picture was crisp and vivid, now it looks like a haze of mess on my Sony set, between the blocky artifacts and soft image. What a shame, but that is what happens when you run 4 channels to a QAM as CV does.

Things have gotten so bad I have turned off all noise reduction, mpeg noise reduction, active control. Anything that softens the picture in the HD settings of my set I have turned off and just leave the image be that is received by the box. We can only dream of those days of crisp, vivid, rich details and color. Reminds me of my first time, if you know what I mean.

CV needs to add H2 HD
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post #113 of 354 Old 04-29-2009, 05:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt L View Post

You just discovered this? WJRT has been soft for YEARS. If you want to see something even worse try WLAJ ABC Lansing, they are the pits. ...

Good comment. For me, I was one of those 'casual' HD viewers with the blinders on until the past year when I went all OTA and started reading forums like this. Unless you analyze channels side by side, and know what to look for, you may or may not notice PQ differences between channels and networks. I can't count the number of times I've been to people's homes, they shouted 'look at my HD!' and I showed them via the display menus they were actually watching SD. Unfortunately, the average viewer won't notice and won't care. They want more digital, and if it's digital, it's gotta be good! On the flip side, I can't count the number of comments from people who have seen my set and said the picture was excellent via relatively uncompressed OTA.

Of course, we all remember our first time (no comments!) Mine was buying my current set about two years ago, hooking up an antenna and seeing my first HD program... some HD travelogue on PBS HD OTA. That looked excellent! Now, that station added a subchannel and every program looks like a macroblock fest. I agree that our days of unmolested HD content is largely over. In the future, I see it limited to cable/satellite providers sending such content at a premium such as PPV or other avenues like the current quality benchmark via BluRay.
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post #114 of 354 Old 04-29-2009, 07:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikemikeb View Post

Not necessarily; CBS has long insisted upon a "quality over quantity" approach; I doubt they'd change their minds now. The only thing that could change their minds is ATSC M/H, which would provide a mobile simulcast of CBS programming. Done right, that stream will leave 16.1 Mbps for HD video. (I explained it further in a long post here.)

It would have to be done EXTREMELY right for 16 mbps to be enough for HD video. If not you will still see motion blocking.

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post #115 of 354 Old 04-29-2009, 08:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by icemannyr View Post

I can understand increased artifacting but why would the lack of bandwidth cause the whole image to go soft?

Softness is an artifact of image compression. Reduced bandwidth makes MPEG compress more aggressively and remove more high frequency components from the image. It's much like the "quality" setting when you save a JPEG image. The lower the quality the smaller the file but the image will be blurrier. If reduce the quality too much, you'll see artifacts worse than blurriness like ringing.

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post #116 of 354 Old 04-29-2009, 09:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikemikeb View Post

I still believe that the HD-only approach would not be a good business model for both the cable company and Disney; way too many sets are still SD-only. Besides, would Comcast be willing to tell their SD customers, "Yes, you can get the channel with your standard-def TV, if you were to get a coupon box and pick up the station for free with an antenna -- sorry; we won't offer it to you, anyway." What kind of a sane company would do that?

I'm not following.  Your post sounds as if you thought that video broadcast in HD could not be seen at all on an SD set.

We have two SD televisions with QAM tuners and ATSC tuners, and both cable HD and OTA HD are displayed ... downrezzed to 480i of course, but we can still watch them, just as a black-and-white set can display a black-and-white reduction of a color signal.

Moreover, you're bringing it up in the context of a cable company.  If the customer is viewing with an STB, the STB can downconvert the video from HD to SD for an SD television.  The box I have from Comcast outputs HD channels in SD through its S-Video, composite, and RF outputs, and it can be configured to downconvert the component output to SD as well.

So no, like Ken, I don't see the need for a cable or satellite provider to deliver a separate SD signal of content that it carries in HD.  Yet most do.
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post #117 of 354 Old 04-29-2009, 09:11 AM
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Is there anyway LiveWell HD could be delivered in 16:9 SD or would that mean it would have to be 4:3 letterboxed?
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post #118 of 354 Old 04-29-2009, 09:51 AM
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At the very least, I think it's time for the FTC a/o FCC to step in and set some definite standards on what can be *marketed* or advertised as being "HDTV" or "TrueHDTV." Just slapping an "HD/5.1" bug on the screen or setting the encoder output buffers to 720p or 1080i doesn't make it "HDTV."

Stations (and cable/satellite providers too) should be required to disclose what bit-rates, codecs and resolutions they are actually sending out.

Just remember, it may be "my yard," but the city can still fine me for letting the grass get too high.
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post #119 of 354 Old 04-29-2009, 11:02 AM
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Why can't these sub channels be broadcast 16:9 SD? Why do they have to try to squeeze 2 HD feeds? MPEG2 is very good codec (contrary to what some maniacs say in these forums) but it needs bandwith. I can't believe that network like ABC is doing this.

I would not count on getting any truthful response from ABC engineers as they are prohibited from saying anything negative or be fired.
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post #120 of 354 Old 04-29-2009, 11:11 AM
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You have to remember the FCC only mandated stations go digital. Every station in the country could've just continued broadcasting 480i 4:3 (like many smaller stations are) and have been done with it. Let's face it. HD was a bonus of this transition. The NAB probably would've thrown a fit if they were to mandated to provide HD. In fact, some in the FCC would prefer if *all* stations multi-cast. (gasp!)
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