At the end of last month I had posted this thread
. Since this is now the "Nearly Official Portland, OR DTV Thread" I thought I would post further developments here. I have since had additional correspondence with Pat Shearer. Below was my response to his last email from the previous post and his response.
Have you seen this, http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/020821/cgw027_1.html,
about the WB's plans for HD this season? With this announcement
do you think that might speed up the HD upgrade at KWBP?
With 3 of the 5 major networks in the Portland area broadcasting
in HD it seams that KWBP would want to get on board before it gets
left too far behind.
I know that HD is a major incentive for me to tune in. I used to not
watch much, if any, CBS programming for example, until they started
broadcasting in HD. I decided to take a look once I got my HD setup.
Now I'm glad I did. Turns out they have quite a few shows that I
When the major three networks, I don't count FauX, they don't broadcast
real HD, went online they had quite a few problems. Actually they're still
having some problems, so it's obviously a bit tricky to get right.
If KWBP wants to catch up and run with the rest they need to get
started ASAP. In my humble opinion of course.
I'm sure the decision is not up to you but to the owner of KWBP.
Maybe if enough people were to write into the station it might speed
Do you have an email address that I could direct people to? I think
there are many more people than you might think out there now with HD
capability. And with more support from our local stations there would
undoubtedly be many more.
Thanks for your time to read this Pat and for your responses.
Anxiously awaiting Hi Definition!
Let me try to clear this all up for you. First of all, we don't even have a
construction permit to build our DTV transmitter facility. Once that permit
is obtained, it will take about 4 months to get the equipment delivered and
installed to enable us to broadcast in digital on channel 33. The last that
I heard was that the FCC hadn't even looked at our application yet as they
are so far behind due to budget cutbacks. We have no control over that
process and therefore we just have to wait.
Although the WB network has finally made a decision about how they will
deliver HD programming to the affiliates, KWBP will not have any way to
carry that signal to our transmitter site for broadcast. Even if we could
get the HD signal to our transmitter site, we would have to have a digital
encoder capable of converting that signal into the proper format for the
transmitter to broadcast. Our corporate (ACME Television) people have made
the decision to save considerable money by initially just upconverting our
existing analog signal(standard definition) for digital broadcasting.
Until such time as our master control room is converted from analog to
digital, we would have no way to switch local commercials into the digital
signals coming from the network. Therefore, we have to continue converting
the network digital signals into analog to go through our master control.
The end result is that the analog output of our master control room will
then be fed into a converter where it will become digital for broadcasting.
As you know, the insertion of local commercials is essential because that is
the only source of revenue for a television station.
Before you ask, I'll address a concern you might have. That would be the
question of how the conversion of the WB network signal into analog for our
master control and the subsequent conversion back to digital will affect
image quality. As you can guess, any conversion will somewhat degrade the
picture quality. However, if you were to go to an actual transmitter site
and make a direct comparison of the picture displayed on a high quality
studio monitor as it is being fed into the transmitter to one coming out of
the transmitter displayed on a consumer television set, you would see a
significant difference. By taking that same input signal through a digital
conversion and then broadcasting through a transmitter and decoding in a
consumer digital television set, the quality will surpasses the analog
television's by a large margin. I have personally seen such a comparison and
the digital television picture is significantly better.
Of course, the limitation then becomes the raw resolution of the picture.
Standard definition - in digital or analog, is limited to about 480 lines of
actual picture whereas a true HD picture is 1080 lines. By having more
lines, the perceived quality will be much better with a true HD picture.
Until KWBP converts the master control room to all digital, we will have no
way of passing a true HD signal through to our transmitter. Converting the
master control room will cost about $400,000. Add to that the new microwave
system, satellite receivers and other equipment for the transmitter and it
could easily come to somewhere around $700,000. Our new transmitter will be
almost $800,000 and we have already spent just under two million on
construction at the Sylvan site for the building, tower and antenna system.
Aside from the capital outlay for equipment, there is the operating cost of
the new transmitter. The electricity alone will be about $96,000 per year
and full power UHF transmitters require plenty of maintenance. Our new
digital transmitter will be almost identical to our existing anaolg
transmitter. From experience with the analog one, I can tell you that we
will be spending roughly $30,000 per year for repair parts and expendible
All of this expense is to provide "free" TV to viewers like yourself. I hope
you now see that this is a huge investment that we will be making and we
will certainly do so as our revenue allows. However, as a small and growing
company, some compromises had to made along the way and it will take time to
get this all accomplished. By the way, ACME Television owns 10 stations
throughout the country with 8 of them in smaller, less profitable markets
than Portland. They all have to invest similar funds into building digital
facilities so it is a challenge for our company to fund this type of
Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope I have answered your
questions. I do hope that when we get our digital transmitter on the air,
you will sample the programming and let me know what you think of the
quality of the picture.
So, the good news is, they do plan on HD, but the bad news it doesn't appear that it will be any time this TV season. Not to mention the fact that the FCC is being very lame in approving the permit to build their tower.