The local news programs produced by WMTW look as if they were produced in the 1990's and quite possibly are still using video tape instead of anything remotely "digital".
Ever since the digital TV (i.e. High Definition) revolution began, WMTW has been behind the times. They were the last TV station in their market to convert to "HD" in terms of broadcasting from the ABC network, and the last to convert to what THEY consider to be high definition for local news broadcasting.
I gave WMTW some heat on this blog concerning their late arrival but was pleased when they at least figured out how to broadcast the ABC prime time programming in HD (albeit 720p instead of 1080i, but that's an ABC network issue that I'll address later). But even at that time, the local WMTW news was still in SD.
If you look at Channel 8's local news, you would still think they aren't broadcasting in High Definition, and I'm not convinced that they actually are.
As you probably know, you can see what they consider to be High Definition and compare it to Standard Definition easily by switching between the two channels (whether it's over the air on channel 8.1 and 8.2, or on your cable system comparing the lower channel to the "HD" upper channel).
While WMTW's "HD" channel appears to be better slightly better quality, is it?
Here's what I think is their trick. Old fashioned SD television was in a 4:3 picture ratio (4 down by 3 across). HD signals use a 16:9 ratio (16 across by 9 down), hence wider flat screen HD TVs.
If you watch a 4:3 (SD) picture on a 16:9 (HD) TV, there are two options:
- leave the 4:3 ratio and fill in the rest of the screen (sides of the picture) with black bars
- STRETCH the picture to fill the screen but everyone looks short and fat, and generally the image is just horrible
The ONLY other option is for a TV station to broadcast its Standard Definition signal in 16:9. We usually associate the 16:9 ration with HD, but TV cameras have the capability of recording in the 16:9 ratio even if you are using Standard Definition.
16:9 ratio programming in SD almost looks like HD except the picture quality when compared to real HD is severely lacking, and when compared to old-fashioned 4:3 Standard definition is about the same.
I don't believe that WMTW is broadcasting its locally produced news (or other) programming in real High Definition.
Do a quick comparison. Watch a newscast on WMTW in HD. Compare it to any other local channel's news cast. The difference will ASTOUND you.
Continue watching WMTW and wait for a "remote location" shot. You will see that the picture quality is even worse because WMTW can't seem to spring for better offsite cameras.
Even if WMTW were broadcasting in full HD, it would be 720p. This is a choice made by America's broadcasting networks. NBC, CBS, PBS, and the CW chose 1080i (a better quality picture all around regardless of what some "experts" say - just take a look for yourself). Fox, and ABC chose 720p. So each network's affiliates invested in the technology that matched their Parent Company broadcaster.
Some people say that 720p ("p" meaning progressive) is just as good as 1080i ("i" meaning interlaced). Without going into the difference between progressive and interlaced technologies, in my personal experience in watching TV (which I admit is extensive), 1080i is far superior to 720p especially on larger TV screens (over 32").
But I digress.
The picture quality of WMTW's local news programming SUCKS. And, their remote shot picture quality is even worse, if that's possible.
I had been laying low because I knew WMTW moving into new studios is Westbrook in September 2014. I thought that finally, things would improve. I was disappointed when nothing changed.
As much as I dislike both WCSH channel 6 news, and WGME channel 13 news, I prefer to actually watch either of them over WMTW because the picture quality on WMTW is so bad. I don't know what WMTW is doing wrong or not doing right. I just know that what I said many years ago is still true:
"When it comes to TV ratings, whoever has the best HD picture wins"It's not that complicated. This is true of cable TV as well. My cable system does not offer every cable channel in HD. The non-HD channels are down in the lower numbers. The High Def channels are on the upper channel numbers. When I'm channel surfing, I start at the first HD channel - 702 for me - and work upwards. I don't even look at channels not in HD.
So, for anyone at WMTW, we know that you broadcast in 720p so we understand why your prime time programs are of a lesser quality. BUT, can you explain why your local news looks no different than it did prior to your "switch" to high definition?