Opinions differ, and there will always be people who prefer the illusion of a full screen to the proportions of real life. I appreciate your willingness to explain your position, and hope we can continue the discussion.
Has WWBT, or anyone else in the industry, ever done a survey of local news staff and on-air personnel on how they feel about looking like they are carrying 20 extra pounds? Or checked with advertisers to see whether they like having their stylish new cars and fashions look overinflated? Or asked the networks how they feel about having a majority of the content they provide looked bloated and unnatural?
For that matter, has there been any research to determine what the viewers want? On 12-1, the burn-in problem has not been eliminated, so we are down to arguing personal preference.
In the VHS era, widescreen OAR tapes languished on the shelves while fullscreen pan and scan versions "modified to fit your TV screen" sold well.
In the DVD era, the opposite is true. (Check the sales figures for titles like Jurassic Park that were offered in both formats.) The reason is that viewers have gotten more sophisticated, and there has been a serious push by Hollywood to protect their content and educate consumers on what they lose when the sides of a movie are chopped off.
Now on TV, viewers are getting used to seeing a growing number of cable and network shows letterboxed on their 4:3 sets. Advertisers are doing it on non-HD content to make their pitch stand out by looking different. ESPNHD uses custom pillarboxes to frame their SD replays.
We have established that some people love the stretch and others hate it. But when you say that you feel your are doing what's best for a majority of your station's viewers, how do you know that?