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Ch.7 News Going HD; Yanks Could Be Next on WBBZ

George Lopez

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Finally, here’s a reason to watch Channel 7 News again.
No, Irv, Tom and Rick aren’t coming back.
HD is arriving.
My spies tell me that Channel 7 has carried an on-air promo announcing that its newscasts will be in high definition. It is scheduled to start Saturday, which also is the day that Channel 7 should get a big audience for the Bills preseason opener against the Chicago Bears.
I needed spies because I don’t tend to watch Channel 7 that often in the summer unless ABC runs a “Modern Family” repeat.
According to sources, Channel 7 staffers have been rehearsing to do a newscast in high definition.
Channel 7’s move to HD would leave Channel 4 as the only local news station to rely on a standard definition picture (or SD) that doesn’t fill the picture of HD sets.
With the loss of Oprah as its lead-in in a few weeks, the Channel 4 News reign already is in jeopardy. LIN TV, which owns Channel 4, would be wise to quickly join the HD party or risk losing more viewers. Its crime-loaded format looks tired and the newscasts anchored by veterans Don Postles and Jacquie Walker look like they are from another century when the picture that HD viewers receive is reduced on the sides.
According to sources, Channel 7 is going to real HD. Channel 2 News began carrying its newscast in something called up-converted HD some time ago and has looked the sharpest ever since it began to fill the screen of HD sets. YNN, Time Warner Cable’s 24-hour news channel, does the same thing.
It doesn’t mean that Channel 7 is going to add any more reporters to its limited staff. But at least the ones they have and anchors Keith Radford and Joanna Pasceri will look sharper.
Well, at least in some ways.
* Speaking of HD, New York Yankee fans want to know why the games that WBBZ carries off of a New York channel aren’t in HD on the station’s HD channel.
Phil Arno, the general manager of WBBZ, said the station planned to carry the games in HD and followed the Yankees advice on what equipment to buy to do so before the season. Unfortunately, the Yankees gave the wrong advice and the equipment didn’t work, Arno said.
He’s trying to decide now whether to proceed with new equipment to carry the Yankee games in HD, but there’s a catch. Isn’t there always?
According to Arno, Time Warner subscribers who don’t have HD would lose some of the picture on the standard definition (Channel 5) feed and the noise WBBZ might receive from disgruntled fans could be louder than the praise it would get from HD viewers.
“It’s a judgment call,” said Arno.
As of Wednesday, he hadn’t decided what to do. I’d vote for carrying the games in HD.
If that is Arno’s final ruling and the equipment arrives, he said the remaining Yankee games on WBBZ’s schedule could air on HD in a few weeks.
*Channel 7 General Manager Bill Ransom recently told the Buffalo News that his station’s move to automation that will lead to the eventual dismissal of 10 people in the engineering department isn’t any different than what previously happened at Channel 2 and Channel 4.
“We’re doing what WGRZ and LIN (Channel 4’s owner) already have already done,” Ransom was quoted as telling the paper last Saturday. “LIN has outsourced its master control and traffic years ago and WGRZ has outsourced its master control and promotion years ago.”
Not exactly, protested Channel 2 General Manager Jim Toellner.
He said his station still does all of its own master control work during most of the week, with it being outsourced overnight and weekends. He added the station didn’t eliminate anywhere near the 10 jobs that Channel 7 will be eliminating after outsourcing master control to an Atlanta company, Encompass, that can transmit feeds in high definition.
Toellner also took issue with Ransom’s suggestion that Channel 2’s local promotions department is history.
“We have a full promotions department that I believe is the largest in town,” said Toellner.
It will be interesting to see how smoothly Channel 7’s transition from local master control to Encompass will be and whether enough issues arise to make viewers notice that things aren’t being done the same way they used to be done. Rarely do these things go off without a hitch.
* TBS announced Wednesday that it is canceling George Lopez’s midnight talk show. Lopez (see above in happier times) had moved this season from 11 p.m. to midnight to make room for Conan O’Brien’s new show at 11 p.m. Conan’s ratings aren’t great but his show was nominated for an Emmy so that should buy some time.
* Finally, Channel 4 sports anchor John Murphy gave Jacquie Walker an unusual shoutout during one of Wednesday’s newscasts. While showing footage of retired Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly at Bills training camp, Murphy noted that Kelly was a Hall of Famer like Walker.

If you joined the newscast just to see the sports, you night have been confused. Meteorologist Amelia Segal had previously introduced a story about Walker and Channel 4 senior producer Vic Baker being named to the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Walker was mentioned in a Buffalo News story after disc jockey Shane, who also was named to the Hall Wednesday.

That placement was more amusing than Murphy comparing Walker to Kelly.

pergament@msn.com

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9 responses to "Ch.7 News Going HD; Yanks Could Be Next on WBBZ"

  1. GMan says:

    Walker in “hall???” boy,have they lowered their standards. Longevity shouldn’t mean that you are worthy. What a joke. She has trouble reading the TelePrompTer every newscast. And, where’s the HD Ch 4. Should we go back to rabbit ear antennas???? Or maybe tin foil?

    • alanp says:

      Couldn’t disagree more.

    • Tina says:

      Totally disagree. Jacquie is the real deal and rarely makes mistakes. Are you thinking of the right person? She is a pro through and through, a bit dull sometimes but she deserves to be in the Hall for sticking with Channel 4 as long as she has..especially lately!

  2. Tom says:

    Is Channel 7 actually going true HD or is just upconverted like Channel 2?

  3. Tom says:

    Oh wait- it is true HD. Joanna Pasceri mentions it here: http://www.wkbw.com/news/blogs/pasceri/HD-Is-Coming-to-7-126810043.html

    That begs this question. How did bankrupt WKBW beat out WGRZ in going first in HD? In either case, Channel 4 needs to really step up their game as it will look like the old WKBW cameras in notime.

    • alanp says:

      How? Well, they will be saving a pretty penny when the 10 people are terminated. Let’s see, 10 times say an average of $40,000 or so of salary and benefits would be a savings of $400,000 a year. An average of $50,000 would be half a mil. And the outsourcing probably helps with the HD, too

      • The fact that the two are happening at the same time, I’m pretty sure isn’t a coincidence. I’d think it would be a whole lot cheaper, at least in the short term, to outsource master control to another company that’s already HD-ready than try to purchase all the equipment necessary to upgrade the existing SD control room to HD. The only thing you’d have to upgrade to HD are the cameras and some other relatively minor equipment.

  4. Scott says:

    I like channel 4′s itty bitty picture. The less you have to see of that irritating Pope Paul, the better.

  5. Tom says:

    I checked out a little bit of the first HD newscast on Channel 7 and it was a major improvement in picture quality. The sound had a few minor issues in the beginning, and the studio lighting looked a little bit too bright on certain shots. Live reports are still shot in SD. The newer in-house graphics they have actually do look good in HD. Overall, it was a much needed and good improvement for 7. Now, I would give 7 the edge for image clarity with a very close second to Channel 2 and YNN. Yes, both of those stations upconverting SD are actually that well done that it’s as close to HD as you can get without being true HD.

    4 on the other hand now looks like 7 used to look, which is an old VHS videotape from the 1980′s.

    If I were to take a guess, Channel 2 will follow with HD in the relatively near future as their news/weather sets are already designed for HD. YNN could also follow in the near future as TWC has deep pockets and wants the news division to continue its success.

    As for Channel 4, LIN Media has been cutting back and continues to cut back. One look at their newest reporters is a prime example. I would not expect them to update for a while yet. The least they could do in the meantime is upconvert SD to widescreen as 2 and YNN do now.

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