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John Kiesewetter on the world of local and national TV

Senior Entertainment Reporter John Kiesewetter has been covering TV and media issues for 20 years. After joining the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1975 as a summer intern, he worked as a county government and suburban reporter; assistant city editor and suburban editor; and features editor supervising the Life section. He has a B.S. in journalism from Ohio University.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007


WCPO0-TV (Channel 9) became the first Cincinnati station to broadcast local news in high-definition TV today at 6 p.m. I wasn't watching, but I'll watch at 11 p.m. to see if I notice any difference in clarity on my analog set. (Cleveland and Columbus stations started local news in HDTV earlier this year.)

Update on Tuesday morning: What are the other stations going to do? Ch 19 says it will "likely" do news in HDTV sometime next year. Ch5 won't say for "competitive reasons." And Ch 12 won't say until after sale of Clear Channel TV division is finalized in late Sept. or early Oct.

Ch. 9 is shooting news video with 16:9 digital cameras, but not HD cameras. New HD field cameras will arrive early next year. First night Ch 9 had problems with 7-day weather chart, with only 5 days seen on standard 4:3 analog TV sets. They hope to fix that in a day or two. Local news cut-ins during "GMA" will remain in standard def until October, when new equipment arrives. For now Ch 9 can't do cut-ins in HD because of the local news ticker crawl at bottom of screen. "We can't do two things at once," says GM Bill Fee.

Here's the announcement from Channel 9:


The first Tri-State television station to launch in High Definition (HD) is WCPO-TV-9; the E.W. Scripps owned ABC affiliate in Cincinnati Ohio . The first telecast was Sunday, August 19th 2007 at 6:00 p.m. Area viewers will now see a more detailed in-depth picture and experience enhanced digital audio no matter what type of television set they have in their homes.

“We’ve always positioned ourselves as the technology leader. Now, once again WCPO is at the forefront of a technology revolution,” says Vice President and General Manager Bill Fee. “WCPO will now be one of the most technically advanced high definition stations in the country. In fact, much of the HD equipment we’re premiering is the first of its kind in the affiliate marketplace. This commitment to providing our viewers with the very best product available is what we’re all about.”

These enhancements include high definition mapping and forecasting, which allows viewers to see incredible detail as it relates to where they live. More detailed mapping also provides added information for tri-state viewers during a severe weather situation as viewers will literally be able to map a line from their residences to the storm front.

Now all news stories will broadcast in 16 x 9 format. “If you’ve ever watched HD you’ve seen the difference,” states WCPO Chief Engineer Joe Martinelli. “Now you’ll be able to experience that difference in local news. The deeper color, the detail. It’s almost equivalent to actually being at the location.”

WCPO has always been a broadcast pioneer. In fact, in the early days of television WCPO was only one of two TV stations in the nation feeding locally originated programming to the networks for re-broadcast. WCPO was also the first Cincinnati television station to use regular mobile reports and taped interviews for local news. In addition, WCPO led the market with live coverage of spot news, using remote vans and a jet helicopter, all under the guidance of veteran newsman Al Schottelkotte.


at 8/19/2007 8:34 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was watching, and it looked great! I'm so glad someone finally stepped up to the plate and did this. The clarity of the video was amazing. Channel 9 is my new favorite news station!!

at 8/19/2007 9:23 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watched at 6 and it looked awesome! John you're still on old analog tv? Been watching HD for over 5 years now and have never looked back! Way to go WCPO!

at 8/20/2007 1:45 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like how Channel 9 explained their HD news and then said that if you don't have an HD TV, then nothing will look different. The next story told you how to go about buying an HD TV. I'm gonna go buy one tomorrow so I can watch the news in HD. *lol*

Also, Channel 9 said that Lance Berry was the only local reporter following the Hamilton team in Williamsport, PA. All week I saw Michael Moley on Channel 5 live behinid the outfield fences. Was he actually behind a green screen?
He interviewed players last night after the game.

at 8/20/2007 6:55 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two words: Simply Amazing! It's hard to believe that not so long ago (in the grand scheme of things) we were watching the first television broadcast, then the first color broadcast, and now we are moving on to a technology that awes the senses. Yes, I am an HDTV junkie now and I want to watch as many shows as possible in HD! I kinda figured 9 would be the first to do it... they always seem to be one (or more) steps ahead of the other guys. So when is the rest of the pack going to step up to the plate?

at 8/20/2007 7:51 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

kiese, just wondering, how do you think you're going to notice a difference in clarity on your analog tv? do you have any idea how high def works?

at 8/20/2007 7:53 AM Anonymous Paul G. said...

So now we can see ALL the make-up and powder-buffing that supposedly takes the lights and camera glare off their collective faces ... and get a real glimps into how old they really are ... who has a pimple or blackhead and who really needs to brush their teeth more often ... or better still, who could use a whitening job ... or maybe wear real jewelry. The I-Team won't have to investigate this. It'll be clearly visable to everyone.

at 8/20/2007 9:54 AM Blogger John Kiesewetter said...

To Anon 7:51 a.m.:
Yes, I know how HDTV works. I made my comment about seeing if I noticed any difference on my analog set because Ch 9 promised "a more in-depth picture... and enhanced digital audio no matter what type of television set they have in their homes."

at 8/20/2007 10:20 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done WCPO!!! The jury is still out as to if HD news jacks the ratings or revenue - but that said.. its about time!! It should also be pointed out that WCPO is the first in the area to allow HD timeshifting.. ie.. we can see Jeopardy and Wheel in HD because they record the HD source during the day!

at 8/20/2007 11:00 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Kiese- does this mean 9 had to get all new cameras, tape decks, live trucks, satellite trucks, etc to get an HD signal back to the station? I noticed that during Lance's "Only On" (wink-wink) report that the video from the game looked stretched from home. Can't they record ESPN-HD? Also the seven day forecast is fit to an HDTV, and I couldn't see all the days on my analog set :(

at 8/20/2007 11:38 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

So...they are the weather technology leader and now the HDTV leader???

at 8/20/2007 11:56 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lance was the only local tv reporter in Williamsport last night. Channel 5 bailed out.

at 8/20/2007 12:26 PM Blogger Rob said...

Having watched the WHIO local news in HD I'll say that I don't think you can properly appreciate the jobs that makeup and lighting people do on national programs until you've seen the local news in HD.

at 8/20/2007 1:25 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

WHIO doesn't do their news in HD, only SD widescreen.

at 8/20/2007 2:06 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

WCPO bought HD Studio cameras when they moved... they bought a new HD switcher when they were still on central ave.

That was "around" when they also replaced their field cameras with "Digital" (Read: DVCPro, not HD)... these cameras can switch to 16x9. You might have noticed some funky squeezing mid last week.

They couldn't go 16x9 until they also switched edit systems to Final Cut Pro.

That means the only real changes they had to make was their graphics system.

To answer the live shot question... Scripps already announced they will buy new 720p field cameras. These low end JVC cams have one major selling point- you can do a live shot in HD for only about 4,000 a pop. If you a real geek... this is a huge deal because 16x9 while nice is not HD.

If you want to see what they will buy, here was the formal press release from JVC:

You'll still see mostly 4x3 content from feeds... I don't know about ABC NewsOne, but CNN's service offers SOME content that is 16x9.

I can tell you 9 was alreday about four years ahead... 12, 19 and 5 last I knew still had old studio cameras... but HD capable switchers.

19 and 5 both have digital field cameas... but they won't be able to shoot HD, so they'll just go 16x9. I've heard many stations across the country say they have no plans to go "Full HD"

at 8/20/2007 3:00 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought that WCPO's picture quality at 6:00pm looked great in HD. The only thing is that the background set was not made for HDTV. Does that mean that channel 9 will be getting a new set soon? Also I think that the weather stuff will be back to normal for Standard TV's but, it looks great in HDTV providing Steve Norris is not doing it.

at 8/20/2007 6:48 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do WKRC, WLWT and WXIX plan on doing their broadcasts in HD any time soon?

at 8/20/2007 8:45 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Julie looked great Steve Raliegh looked well i wont say yes i will say i dont know how or what to say bit i figured that soas would be in hd but wasnt

at 8/20/2007 10:20 PM Blogger Toddy-O said...

The password is 4x3 safetitle! Note to the graphics department: bring in your graphics! The previous blogger is right, your weather graphics are way past 4x3 safe title.

The chroma looks good. As the one blogger asked: what happens when your newssource feed is still 4x3? Don't stretch!!!! It looks horrible!

at 8/20/2007 11:45 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Needless Puffery."

TV-9's boss used to profess that it wasn't necessary to beat their chests with silly, tasteless puffery such as: "Exclusive" & "Only on US!"

But no more.

So now in HD, we have a guy at a LITTLE LEAGUE game bragging about being the only one there in an EMPTY LITTLE LEAGUE field in the RAIN.
Way to go.
And, he wasn't in HD.
Maybe this reporter has it in his contract that due to a bit of weight gain his image must be compressed?

I sampled the HD on TV-9 at 6pm.
I saw the image of a reporter named Sharon Kettler do a fifteen second report, then shake her head as if she didn't know she was actually ON televison, then she apologized for NOT having the report - YET in HD, you could actually see the panick on her face much better.

Just give me the news.
But you won't, Bill Fee.
You know best.
Your viewers won't watch sharp, smart news.
I'll continue to go elsewhere for that.

at 8/21/2007 12:25 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again, WCPO takes another leap to remain the technology leader in town.

I've been glancing around TV Web sites lately. Anyone know why Rob Braun is the only Local 12 talent without a Web bio? He too good for that or something?

at 8/21/2007 8:45 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm loving the news in HD. Many of the anchors look a bit different (and not in a good way). Kathrine Nero is the only one who actually looks better in high def, or maybe she just looks better because she has finally got a decent hairdo. Still prefer her with the cropped hair.

at 8/21/2007 10:38 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey John,
HDTV Looks great!!! You said ch. 5 won't say when they are going HD for news due to competetive reasons. Who are they competing with? They are alone in the news cellar. Their biggest competition is the Simpsons at 11pm and According to Jim in the eary show. Those reruns aren't in HD yet, so no need to worry ch. 5.

at 8/21/2007 12:53 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, since 9's field operations are not HD, they are about as much an "HD" station as they have "the most accurate forecast."

Fitting what's available to stake the claim. Do they have to pay Sony a licensing fee to use the phrase HD like they do with WeatherRat's fraudulent weather rating system?

at 8/21/2007 1:49 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those who lack the tech. knowledge behind HD, here is the scoop. Currently only a couple (5<)stations across the country are offering HD field reports. Sprint/NEXTEL bought the 2 GHz band that all the TV stations are using currently and NEXTEL is upgrading all the stations with new equipment, it just so happens that this equipment will be HD. So why would a station pay to buy this equipment when it will get it for free from NEXTEL? Channel 9 will always be able to say "First in HD" and when Feb. 2009 comes, it may not be the only station in HD. Cleveland will have ABC,FOX,NBC and CBS locals in HD in September, the first in the country.

at 8/21/2007 3:13 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who's the weatherRat? Steve Norris?

at 8/21/2007 4:29 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, Anon 11:45 pm... you sound like a disgruntled ex-employee!!

at 8/21/2007 4:35 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, OK, enough of the bashing. I work at another station in town (not WCPO). Are we working towards HD? Yes, way down the road. Would we have liked to have been first? Of course. But we weren't.

Sometimes we win the ratings, sometimes 9 wins. You win some and you lose some. 9 won the race to HD, and I am proud to say I am man enough to say "Congratulations Channel 9... You were first in HD and your product looks great!" There. I said it. Enough with the petty quibbling.

at 8/21/2007 10:10 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

There HD product looks great providing it is working. I was watching the beginning of the evening news this evening (Tuesday) and it was in Standard for the first 10+ minutes. That's not to mention all of the other times they were going back and forth.

at 8/22/2007 7:20 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

What would Al Schottelkotte have looked like in HDTV?

at 8/22/2007 7:42 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Channel 12 needs to broadcast their prime-time programming in Dolby Digital before they make the leap to HD. Get with the times channel 12!

at 8/22/2007 6:04 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

"high definition" all you want--you still get crap like this:

9 must have been high when they defined a false call in sycamore township as a shooting.

this was downright ugly! come on! who saw it! you gotta get on this.

tanya pitches to jay warren on the phone, saying, "shooting in sycamore twp." jay says, "well if that's what you're hearing back there, that's what we'll go with."

turns out--no shooting, no victim, nothing but more overblown unnecessary and flat-out FAKE breaking news.

they had to go back and have clyde clean it up later in the newscast.

more quality coverage from the first station in high def...errors.

at 8/23/2007 11:02 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comments from Anon. 8/20 11:45P and 8/22 6:04P sure sound like a disgruntled, unhappy, unsuccessful news director at a competitor. What do his comments have to do with HD?

at 8/23/2007 12:26 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow Anon 6:04 also sounds like a disgruntled ex-employee... or someone who works at 5!!!

at 8/23/2007 12:59 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jezz, could you come off more of a cry baby over such a trivial thing??? Must be a slow news day at Channel 5 or 12.

at 8/23/2007 1:46 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

WCPO has HD studio cameras, HD graphics, HD maps, HD Weather radar and weather graphics. What more could you ask for in a first stab at it? At least they are trying.

at 8/23/2007 2:54 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Call it sour grapes from anon 6:04 all you want--the point's legit. it's great for 9 and great for tv in general that they're now in hd. but you can have all the tech advances you want. if the product's bad..the product's bad. and there ain't no getting around it.

at 8/23/2007 3:23 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to defend channel 9 or anything (I work at another station) but, what everyone has to realize these days is that it is not always the person you see on your TV (the reporter) getting all of the facts. I can say first hand that the people that work behind the scenes getting the information are sometimes not as experienced as the ones that work in front of the camera and it shows on the air.

at 8/23/2007 8:24 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

9's error on the shooting was simply somebody reporting scanner traffic as news... 700 is the worst, at it. and 5 does it ALL THE TIME.

Just this morning there was a SCANNER REPORT of and officer down (there wasn't an officer down).

This isn't sour grapes... anyone who works in news (like I do) knows that there are lots of factors... I know my shift at my station doesn't run scanner reports without confirmation, but that doesn't mean a diffrent crew/shift wouldn't.

Way too many stations are running scanner traffic without confirmation... This is a managment issue, not experience or lack there of. Last and Accurate should aways trump First and Fast and Inaccurate.

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