I recall getting some other e-mails about the Fox affiliate in Cincinnati. Tried reaching their engineering people, but only got to voicemail and nobody returned my call.
In Chicago, we have an upconvertrer box made by Faroudja, the model DFT, that cost us over $70,000 to handle scan and format conversion for DTV. Of course, that was 1999 pricing, and I'm sure they're cheaper now.
Anyway, we tell the box to take the incoming FOX Network feed and give it horizontal stretch to 16:9. This seems to restore OAR on most material.
Be aware that this evolution into digital TV is a learning curve for all and there is no one good answer to how to handle these AR issues during this transitional phase. 99% of the programs out there are 4:3 AR and in Chicago we have changed from sending them out as 14:9 to sending them out as 4:3 at the request of the viewers on this forum. FOX Network sends out a 16:9 feed for primetime in 480P30. SOmetimes the image is actually shot/transferred 16:9, sometimes the image is 4:3 on a 16:9 raster so there are black sidepanels on the image sides, and on Andy Richter they were doing a zoom-in/blowup and tilt to take a 4:3 image and make it 16:9. This causes a loss of detail (as if there is a lot of detail in 4:3 480i images to begin with) and loss of information across the top and bottom (i.e. lost lines). Compare the standard broadcast alongside the zoomed-in image and you'll see what I mean. I don't have any control over that decision, and it's probably more of that trial and experimentation everyone is doing with the medium.
And don't anyone flame me about going direct to 16:9 HDTV 720P or 1080I and this problem would be solved. There's not enough hours in the day to re-produce enough original content to feed all the broadcast timeslots 24 hours a day.
The cost to scrap our local facilities and rebuild them to full HDTV capability would cost us over 20 million dollars just in equipment and infrastructure changes alone. Unlike ABC, CBS and NBC, FOX only has 2 hours of network shows weekdays. The other 22 hours is filled with local newscasts and syndicated programming. We're at the mercy of what the syndicators are producing, and they're facing some of the same cost justifications we are. I personally wish we could just do it, but it's a business decision based on where the viewers are, and the cost justifications aren't there yet. Consumers are not rushing out to buy HDTV sets the same way they bought Nintendos and Furbys (yes there is a big cost difference). Consumers did not ask for HDTV/DTV either. The government mandated it, and we had to do it. Cost us over 6 mil just to put up the transmitter.
Thyis is getting too long. Sorry.
Retired EIC at
WFLD-DT & WPWR-DT - Chicago, Il.
My opinions are my own, and are not representative of any of my employers, their parent companies, or subsidiary companies.