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CBS To Expand HDTV B’casting

NEW YORK — As other broadcasters fumble in the dark with their delivery of HDTV programming, the CBS Television Network announced it would expand its commitment to deliver prime-time content and special events in the 1080i HDTV quality during the upcoming season.

The announcement came at a press conference for a Mitsubishi DLP-based HDTV-capable projection TV (see related story, p. 30) and days after Thomson announced it would underwrite the HDTV telecasts of NFL postseason games on CBS this winter.

Mitsubishi later announced it would underwrite the HDTV production of the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament on CBS this month. This could result in live HDTV source material for this week’s CEDIA Expo in Indianapolis. The deal, which is similar to one made for last year’s tournament, will produce 18 hours of HDTV coverage the weekend of Sept. 8-10.

CBS executives said they intend to produce their regular series shows in HDTV this season, with the possible exception of certain news shows such as 60 Minutes that are produced in video instead of film.

Network executives said they had no underwriting deals or special advertising programs in place to offset the HDTV production costs, but revealed that film-to-HDTV transfer costs have been reduced. As more production houses add HDTV equipment, original programming production in HDTV will become less expensive than film.

Last season Mitsubishi (and to a lesser degree Samsung) helped fund CBS’ prime-time HDTV programming. Mitsubishi executives previously announced they would limit their HDTV underwriting to special events for the 2000 season.