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On page G1, the front page of the Business section, in yesterday's Sunday "Chronicle" there was a good article about HDTV, with one exception. If you didn't read it, here's a link to it:


Here's my response to David Lazarus, who wrote the article:

Hello David,

I enjoyed your article "Where oh where is my HDTV?" in the Sunday "Chronicle". It's about time someone wrote about this wonderful new broadcast medium! Most TV viewers out there have never seen it, and most haven't heard of it, so they don't realize the quality they're missing. I've owned a wide screen HDTV set since November, and have been enjoying the fantastic picture and sound quality of both standard definition and high definition TV immensely.

When friends come to our home and see HDTV, they are amazed at the quality. Most say that it's "just like being there" or "like looking out a window". One said it was as big of a jump in quality for television as comparing the sound of an old 78 rpm record to what you hear from a CD is for music. It is that big of a difference in quality.

While most of your article is correct, I must disagree with your statement that: "...genuine HDTV programming is still a rarity, typically limited to special events such as the Super Bowl or New Years Eve fireworks displays." The Super Bowl was NOT in HD and I didn't see any fireworks in HD on New Years Eve.

What I do receive in HD is a large percentage of the ABC and CBS prime time programming, including most of the movies and regular series. CBS even has a daily soap opera, "The Young and the Restless" in HD. NBC has been slow to get HD on the air for prime time, but the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" is in HD every night and the Olympics were in HD. KQED broadcasts high definition programming continuously on one of their two multiplexed digital channels.

FOX, WB and UPN haven't done any HDTV broadcasts yet, but FOX has much of it's prime time programming in widescreen standard definition, and that's a big improvement over analog.

In fact, watching any of the upconverted NTSC programs on the Bay Area's digital channels is a major improvement in the quality over watching the same program on the NTSC channel. There is no interference, no fading, there are no ghosts and the picture detail is MUCH better. There are now 13 digital stations on the air in the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose market, so we have a lot to chose from.

I took a look at the top 20 programs shown in the TV Ratings report on page D7 of last Thursday's "Chronicle". NBC had half of the top 20, but six of the remaining 10 were in HD. NBC has reported that they'll be jumping on the HDTV bandwagon this fall.

In addition to the over-the-air signals, those with DISH or DirectTV have several addition HDTV sources: 24-hour HDNet, HBO, Showtime and HD demo loops, plus Discovery is going HD in a few days.

So, while there is still a long way to go before there's a high percentage of HDTV, it's not as bleak as you made it sound in your article. And as I said, just having the digital channels on the air offers a major improvement in quality for just the regular programming.

I'm very glad I went out and spent those extra dollars on a high definition television. Once you see HD, or even standard digital, you won't want to go back to NTSC. It's all fuzzy in comparison!

Larry Kenney

San Francisco
[email protected]
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