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HDTV Shines At Political Conventions

Philadelphia — Be he Republican or Democrat, the country’s next president will be aware of the performance benefits of high-definition television.

Panasonic saw to that by outfitting the national convention facilities for both parties with prominently displayed HDTV sets. If attendees wanted to make a comparison of analog to HDTV, a number of analog sets were also positioned both within and around the convention sites.

The HDTV demos proved to be the magnet the manufacturer hoped they would be, as attendees crowded entry corridors to stop and watch the 50W- and 60W-inch Panasonic flat-screen plasma display panels presenting the speeches in HDTV quality. A few opted to stay because they got a better view on the screen than they had from their seats.

Japan’s NHK produced the HDTV feed that was sent to digital Panasonic TVs via close circuit cables. Sencore also supplied HDTV-hard drive servers for graphics segues and endless-loop replays during breaks in convention activities.

The NHK feed, which was transmitted in 1080i format, was carried by 25 stations, including 17 PBS stations and eight commercial stations in Columbus (Ohio), Dallas, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Raleigh, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. NHK also presented both conventions to viewers in Japan.

In Philadelphia, the local PBS station transmitted the NHK feed, and Zenith used the opportunity to demonstrate the 8-VSB modulation scheme it contributed to the ATSC standard.

Zenith spokesman John Taylor said Zenith set up a demonstration of HDTV at the GOP Political Fest, a few miles from the convention facility.

Proactive DTV pioneer Capitol Broadcasting, which runs CBS affiliate WRAL-DT in Raleigh, N.C., offered both conventions using the NHK feed in its market and used the coverage to evangelize its ongoing HDTV efforts.

In an announcement on its website, WRAL-DT said: “The convention coverage coincides with WRAL’s initiative to offer HD programming daily from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Channel 53.1 . A simulcast of WRAL-TV5, our analog station, is available on Channel 53.2. Subscribers to Time Warner’s digital cable service should be able to receive these digital channels with regular TV sets.”