Friday, August 21, 2015

CBS affiliate WGME "caught" not broadcasting in 1080i - but Big Brother is watching!

WGME - Channel 13 is in a pickle.  They (or more likely their parent Sinclair Broadcasting) were caught broadcasting a downgraded signal, not up to the standards of being a CBS affiliate.

A while back I noticed the quality of WGME's broadcast had diminished some.  If you own a bigger High Def TV (say, above 40 inches) you are more likely to notice a poor quality picture.

Some people swear there is no difference between 720p and 1080i but those people are wrong.  It's fairly obvious. 

Locally, in Portland, Maine, take a look for yourself.
  • NBC, PBS and the CW have an amazing picture (all in 1080i
  • ABC, FOX, and MyNetwork have a diminished picture  (all in 720p)
That leaves WGME, the CBS affiliate.  Many of my current TV watching habits were honed over the early days of high definition, based on picture quality.  For example, it took WMTW (ABC-Channel 8) FOREVER to convert to High Definition - so I stopped watching them.

CBS on WGME used to be the hallmark of high quality HD pictures.  But for quite a while now, it has been lacking.  One day I hit the "info" button on my remote and it showed "720p" for the broadcast signal.  I had to stare at it for several minutes.  I thought my cable company was screwing with the CBS signal.  I took the the Internet and double checked.  No, I was right, CBS is broadcasting nationally in 1080i.  So WHY IS MY WGME SIGNAL IN 720P?????

It took until today to find out.  I can't name names or quote anyone.  But apparently WGME has been getting away with this for several (like 4) years.  What I thought was my eyesight going, or the lighting in the room, or my TV crapping out on me, was actually WGME themselves DOWNGRADING the 1080i signal from CBS to 720p.

As it turns out, WGME is "considering" returning to 1080i.

I asked my source specifically why CBS corporate would allow a local affiliate like WGME to screw with its signal, the answer is, they wouldn't.  Big Brother is watching.  And rightly so.

Now, I suspect it took a while for CBS corporate to figure out what was going on but somebody finally noticed.  I believe, and I'm speculating based on what I know, that CBS is forcing WGME back in to the 1080i game.  For WGME is was simply CHEAPER to try to get away with a 720p signal.  Less storage space for audio/video because the files are smaller, less compression, and more room for their current alliance with FOX 23 (who is in 720p and for whom WGME reproduces its own news on FOX 23).  FOX 23 used to ally itself with WCSH (NBC - 1080i) for its local news.  I suspect part of the deal when Fox 23 changed to WGME was that WGME use 720p.  It's all a complicated shell game (read "money") and WGME GOT CAUGHT!.  Or was it SINCLAIR BROADCASTING GROUP WHO HAPPENS TO OWN BOTH WGME AND WPFO (FOX 23) who got caught.

I wish I could say it was I who blew the whistle and called the FCC and CBS Broadcasting.  While I have complained on this site and speculated on a few occasions, I never had real answers.  So it wasn't me.

I am so glad I finally figured out what's been going on.  It's been driving me crazy and it's always great to finally GET answers, even if it could take WGME (or Sinclair Broadcasting) a year to undo the mess they made.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

WMTW Channel 8 in Portland Maine - Maine's Total Weather? Are you sure?

WMTW in Portland, ME (Channel 8) has a tag line that it's "Maine's Total Weather".

That can't possibly be true if it's the ONLY station in its market that doesn't broadcast the weather in High Definition (or the entire local news broadcast for that matter).

Here are some screen shots of the 3 major affiliates in Portland. They are just random shots.  Open and look.



 and finally poor little

Look at the quality (or lack thereof where appropriate) of each picture.  Channel 8 graphics look the same now as they did 10 years ago.

Now that's not to mention the overall broadcast quality of Channel 8.  When you add PBS to the the mix, Channel 8 is the only local broadcaster in the Portland market using 720p instead of 1080i.  That alone is not WMTW's fault.  Their affiliate parent, ABC, decided years ago when they had a choice, to go with 720p instead of 1080i for their HD broadcasting. (You may look elsewhere on this site or others for an explanation of the difference.)  And it took all local affiliates years to get up to speed with the right technology, studios, makeup, and field cameras needed to be able to broadcast the local new in High Definition

The problem?  WMTW never really caught up.  Their prime time programming from ABC is in 720p.  Some say it's the same quality as 1080i in that the average user can't tell the difference.  I beg to differ - strongly.  Just watch any broadcast or cable channel using 1080i including the other networks, plus cable networks like CNN, etc. and you WILL see the difference.  720p was okay (just okay) for HD TV's that were at most 32 inch screens.  But as TV's get bigger, the difference in quality becomes even more apparent.

As for WMTW, their local news broadcast appears to me to be in the right ratio (16:9 for HD, as opposed to 4:3 for SD) but the quality of the picture appears to be more like 480i or 480p.  These are the picture qualities used prior to HD.  So the picture might look correct (not stretched or oddly proportioned as can happen) but the quality is abysmal.  Many TV stations around the country try to fool the public by broadcasting in a 16:9 ratio, but use a 480i picture quality.  You will see this most prominently in "field" reporting.  The studio cuts to a location piece and suddenly the picture looks awful.  This happens because the field cameras they use are cheap, crappy cameras that can film in the 16:9 ratio, but can't film in high definition.  ANY MODERN SMARTPHONE HAS BETTER BROADCAST QUALITY THAN THE FIELD CAMERAS USED ON WMTW.

In my opinion WMTW should be ASHAMED of the quality of the content they are producing for the public. If you are watching WMTW on a High Def TV on the High Def channel, compare it to the standard definition channel.  Every cable operator has both.  And even if you're not using cable TV in preference of free HDTV over the air, compare channel 8.1 (their supposed HD channel) to channel 8.5 (the SD version), there is very little difference.  On the other hand, do the same with WCSH or WGME.  You will be blown away by the better picture in HD.

I don't watch WMTW for local news/weather any more because the picture quality is so bad.  It's bad in an era of television that has produced unbelievably crisp, clear, high definition TV.  What is WMTW going to do when Ultra HD and 4K HD televisions become norm.  Just like flat screen TV's became so prolific 10 years ago, within 5 years, Ultra HD and 4K will be the norm.  You can't even buy a TV that's not an HD flat screen anymore.  In 4K, watching WMTW will be like watching black and white, grainy, "news reel" footage from the moon walk in 1969  in comparison to every other channel in the Portland market.

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times:  Whoever has the best HD wins!
As the choices for watching television get broader each day, and in a world where the almighty advertising dollar still rules, can WMTW really afford NOT to keep up? 

I welcome your comments and opinions

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

WMTW Portland Maine - Still broadcasting in SD like it's 1999?

If you watch any local programming on WMTW, Channel 8, in Portland, ME, you would think you think that time travel exists and you would think you are in 1999.

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
After broadcast TV was forced to go digital in 2009, things changed slightly.  Typically you can watch an HD signal in non-HD mode on your TV but now there will be black bars on the top, bottom, and sides.  The picture doesn't fill the screen but the ratio (16:9) is correct.  So while the picture might be clearer and look right, it doesn't fill the screen and you can't force it to unless you plan to not see the entire picture.

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?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

WGME CBS Portland, Maine High Definition downgraded to 720p

I noticed recently that CBS is now broadcasting television shows in 720p instead of 1080i.  I'd like to know, and I am trying to find out, when this began, but more importantly WHY?.

Great debaters take on the topic of 1080i versus 720p ad nauseam; there is no consensus.  But as a long time HD television advocate and industry watcher, in my personal opionion (well, me and my TV's) 1080i is far superior to 720p.  Just take a look at the ABC news cast (720p) and compare it to whatever is on CNN (1080i) at the same time and tell me you don't see a difference.

I was watching the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley recently and noticed how bad the picture was.  I noticed it on Face the Nation the prior day. I started adjusting the fine tuning of my Samsung High Def (which I hate compared to my Sony, Samsung is SO overrated, but that's a story for another post) because the picture just didn't look right.

I tried everything from contrast to brightness to warm/cool and everything in between.  I tried playing with the various (and useless) built-in "modes" on the Samsung (e.g. Movies, Sports, Gaming, etc.) but nothing worked.

When I finally hit the "info" button while tuned in the CBS, I was shocked to see that CBS was broadcasting in 720p. The info button on my TV tells the viewer what "definition" they are watching. I don't believe it had anything to do with WGME because they (like other broadcast stations) simply rebroadcast the signal as it comes in. But to be honest, I'm not sure. I checked back on several days and several other CBS shows and they were still in 720p. For all I know WGME may have downgraded the signal.  I used the google machine thingy and tried various searches regarding CBS and 720p but literally found nothing on the subject that had now capture my attention greatly.

I'm trying to get some answers and I'm starting with WGME to see if they know (or will even tell me) what's going on.

One of the reasons I even watched CBS is for the picture quality.  It's important to me.  If there is breaking news or a Presidential address, I will watch it on NBC, CBS, PBS, or CNN (all 1080i) instead of ABC or FOX (720p for both) because of the better quality of the picture.  When you spend a lot of money on a High Def TV, you want your content in High Def, yes, but you want it in the BEST high def quality you can get.  When you have a choice, you will go with higher quality every time.

So I've started asking questions and we'll see what I find out.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

WMTW in Portand, ME, tries to fool viewers looking for HD


I'm not quite sure what is going on over at WMTW in Portland, Maine.  Even though Hearst Television (Heart Communications) has spent millions upon millions upgrading the TV stations it owns so that the local news for each can be broadcast in High Definition (HD), somehow Hearst managed to skip over WMTW - "News 8" in Portland, Maine.

Let's face it - whoever has the most HD wins.  Along time ago I predicted that whichever local TV station in our market (Portland/Lewiston/Auburn) did the local news in HD would win the ratings game (and therefore the advertising revenue).  And I happened to be right.  WCSH-6 broadcast its local news in first, WGME-13 was second, and WMTW has yet to do it.  The ratings match up exactly to this dynamic.

Although WMTW has won many award for its news coverage in the last few years, including a regional Emmy award and the Edward R. Murrow award, it continues to be dead last in the ratings in its official demographic area (Portland/Lewiston/Auburn as cited by the National Association of Broadcasters).

And here is why.

First, keep in mind the the majority of US households now have at least one High Definition television. And if you own one, and have truly experienced REAL HD, there is simply no going back to crappy quality pictures.  Why should we.  The technology has been around for two decades.  It would be comparable to the 1950's and 1960's when Color TV took over Black and White.  Can you imagine if out of 3 local TV stations, two were in color and one was in B&W?  Which would you watch on your new color TV?

After the conversion from Analog TV to Digital TV, local TV stations were still broadcasting their locally produced news in standard definition (SD).  It takes lots of money (for equipment in the studio and for field reporting) and time to prepare for broadcasting local news in HD.  But parent company Hearst put up the funds for what seems like every one of its TV station, except WMTW.

As recently as about 3 weeks ago, WMTW's HD capabilities for the local news was limited to a banner/scroll at the bottom of the screen which mostly had weather info during the broadcast, but the actual on-camera folks, and field reporting, was done in SD - and it looked like hell.

About 3 weeks ago, WMTW "converted" to what uninformed viewers might think is HD, but in fact is not.  WMTW simply changed the aspect ratio from 4:3 (SD) to 16:9 (typically HD but more accurately is simply considered wide screen. You don't have to be in HD to broadcast in wide screen) so that the picture would fill the screen and not look stretched or squished.

However, the quality of the broadcast didn't change.  The local news is in wide screen but IS NOT IN HD.  Nor is the field reporting.  Just compare the onscreen graphics to the info bar at the bottom.  Or compare the picture to one of the other TV station's local news.

I can only imagine that WMTW received many complaints from viewers regarding its lack of local news in HD.  So their solution was to try to fool the viewing audience into assuming the broadcast was now in HD simply because the picture was now in wide screen format.  Well, guess what - IT'S NOT!!!!  There is NOTHING HD about WMTW's news broadcast.  It's just a wider originating picture.  Shame on you WMTW.

I am perplexed as to why WMTW is one of the few, if not the only, Hearst-owned TV stations around the country which has not been converted to full HD for the local news.  I've tried to find out, but simply can not.  And worse now is that because of ratings, WMTW cancelled it's weekday noon newscast due to lack of ratings and was replaced by "The Steve Harvey Show".  Really!?  Are you kidding me??  That show will get cancelled within a few months if not weeks.  Then, WMTW will be showing infomercials instead of a noon newscast.  It's just sad.  And all because the ratings were lost to two other stations who invested in HD technology for the local news cast.  WMTW is also the only local TV station to skip a 5 PM newscast - because nobody is watching in non-HD.  Instead they have the Dr. Phil show at 5 pm which is rebroadcast from an HD uplink.  They can do that, but they can't broadcast the local news in HD.  It's different technology.

The bottom line is that WMTW is dragging in the ratings even though the station wins prestigious awards.  But who would want to watch WMTW news (that looks awful on an HDTV) when the viewer can relax his/her eyes and watch WCSH-6 or WGME-13 local news in GLORIOUS, full HD.  No matter how insipid the news readers are (I simply can not call the people who anchor or report for WCSH or WGME "journalists"), the weather maps on the two HD stations are cool (especially WCSH) and much of the field reporting, which is sometimes local and sometimes rebroadcast from other stations around the country, is crystal clear in HD.

WMTW is losing the ratings game.  By all measurable criteria, they should be winning. But the lack of HD from the live studio news broadcast AND from the field reporting is dragging them down even further.

I tried to reach WMTW for comment about why they switched to 16:9 wide screen but not to HD, and to find out why Hearst's multi-million dollar investments in most stations it owns had not reached WMTW.  I could not get a response.

In defense of WMTW, the station does not refer to its local news as HD and does not use "HD" in any tag lines.  However, switching to a wide screen format as a way to placate the public is one more nail in the coffin, and a bit (or a lot) disingenuous.

WMTW once had one of the biggest viewerships in the country (by share) because its tower was located on top of Mount Washington, the highest place in New England.  They used to reach six or seven states plus the Montreal market.  The fall from grace began when digital TV was mandated and WMTW had to sell it's spot "on the mountain" due to FCC regulations.  They simply could not or would not keep up with current technology.

I'm sure that the local management at WMTW wishes like crazy that their local news was in HD.  I can't imagine it would be otherwise.  So the blame has to be put on the Hearst Corporation.  I wouldn't be surprised if Hearst plans to sell the station and that is why WMTW's newsroom has not been converted to HD.

If anyone out there knows what's going on, I'd truly love a reply to this post so that my readers will understand it as well.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

CBS, Sinclair, and WGME pass the buck regarding High Def issues

WGME-13 in Portland, Maine is NOT broadcasting in 1080i High Definition on their HD Channel (13.1).

I didn't notice for a while because I had cable TV, with a cable box.  I remember thinking that WGME's broadcast didn't have the quality I remembered but I don't watch TV that often anymore and figured that since I was using my cable box instead of an antenna, there was a signal degradation.  When I decided it was too expensive and went back to using my old Bessie (TERK Antenna) my Sony Bravia TV told me that Channel 13.1 was in 720p.  Then it hit me.

This confused the heck out of me.  As the second largest broadcaster in the world behind the BBC (UK), CBS Corporation was one of the biggest proponents of 1080i High Definition, investing a lot of money to make 1080i the standard over 720p.  In the end, CBS got what it wanted for CBS affiliates while other Networks, like ABC and Fox went with 720p.  And I know that WGME had been broadcasting in 1080i from back a ways when I only relied on over the air High Definition.  So when I noticed all of this happening last week, I called CBS Corporation in New York and left a message - that was my only option.

CBS itself doesn't own WGME, it is owned by SInclair Broadcasting (better known as the Tea Party broadcasting group).  On the day I left a message with CBS, I went home that night and noticed that WGME was back to broadcasting in 1080i.  I thought that maybe, someone from CBS contacted them.  CBS Affiliates are under contract to rebroadcast network programming in 1080i.  It work the same for whatever network we're talking about whether the contract is for 720p or 1080i.
Now, there is an ongoing debate over which is better, 720p or 1080i.  I can guarantee you, in all my years of researching HD TV, 1080i is superior to 720p.  I can tell the difference from a mile off.  But that's not the point.  The point is that CBS and NBC transmit their HD signals in 1080i, while ABC and Fox broadcast in 720p.  Do me a favor - watch and compare and see if you don't agree.

I worked on getting my antenna in just the right spot for several days (it's what you do when you rely on Over The Air, or OTA, television signals).  So I know that it wasn't a fluke.  WGME didn't slip up one day for a few hours.  They were broadcasting in 720p for I don't know how long and they hoped nobody would notice.

I noticed.

I knew (from previous experience) that if I called the General Manager of WGME that I wouldn't get any answers.  So I called CBS Corporate Offices in New York.  I didn't get to speak to a live person but I left a message with a Rich Shoenholtz in Affiliate Relations.  I never heard back from the guy (I wasn't surprised).  When I didn't hear back I wrote to Craig Clark, the Chief Engineer at WGME to ask about the 720p signal.  I did not hear back from him either.

Today, I called CBS again and talked to a lovely (I'm kidding) woman named Kathleen Powers.  She had absolutely no idea what I was talking about and didn't know High Definition from a hole in the wall.  After I got frustrated trying to explain, she put me on hold and said she talked to "someone" who said that Sinclair Broadcasting owned WGME and I would have to take it up with them.

OK - I don't get it.  WGME is owned by Sinclair but under contract with CBS to rebroadcast the CBS signal in 1080i.  CBS spent a lot of money to make sure they would be in 1080i when the conversion to digital/HDTV took place.  But nobody cares that their affiliate isn't doing what is supposed to be done under a signed contract?  That make absolutely no sense to me.

So I called Sinclair, knowing ahead of time that I would be hard pressed to find someone there who would talk to a lowly consumer.  When I explained why I was calling the receptionist, again, had absolutely NO IDEA what I was talking about and said that an affiliate could use whatever "brand of equipment" they wanted and that I should take it up with WGME.  What!?  Really?!

When I finally explained what High Definition was and the different qualities of High Definition, and that one of their stations was following protocol, she transferred me to the IT department.  The gentleman that answered the phone said that he wasn't the right person to talk to (after I explained again why I was calling) and "transferred" me to dead air by hanging up on me.

As a last resort, I called Tom Humpage, General Manager of WGME.  I left a voice mail and sent him and email since we had emailed each other a few years back about other issues.

As of the date and time of this posting, I have yet to hear back from anyone regarding this issue.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sharon Rose on WCSH 6 a second-rate hack

I can't even bring myself to call her a reporter.  There is nothing "journalistic" about Sharon Rose.  A journalist reports the facts and while every journalist is supposed to be unbiased, it is common that a journalist has his/her own slant to the story.

That's one thing.  But Sharon Rose on WCSH 6 doesn't stop there.  She makes it quite clear what her opinions are about every story she reads.  That's right, she's not a journalist, she's a "personality" that reads from a teleprompter.  As a result, what we get, as viewers, is her biased, eye-rolling, scrunched-up face as it pertains to any story that falls outside her narrow-minded, white-bread, middle class purview. 

On Tuesday morning, November 29th, 2011, the WCSH 6 Morning Report reported a story regarding some business men in Connecticut who won the lottery.  The point of the story was that not only did they win a lot of money, their intentions are to donate a large portion of the money to charities and other humanitarian organizations.

Video of the winners ran during the story. The video depicted the winners at the lottery headquarter in Rocky Hill, CT, where they stood next to and behind the "big cardboard check".  As the video portion ended there was a woman seen clapping off to the side.

When the camera returned to Sharon Rose and Lee Nelson in a wide shot, Sharon Rose just couldn't contain herself.  She made a motion as if she were clapping but her hands never touched, thereby never making a noise.  While she was making this motion she said "That's how they clap in Connecticut".

First of all, Rose's depiction was NOT what was happening in the video.  Second, I was born in raised in Connecticut.  I grew up in the Hartford area.  In fact, I lived in Rocky Hill at one point in my life.  I was born into a lower middle class family that didn't have a lot of money.  Actually, we were poor.  Connecticut is no different than any other place in the world.  Some people have money - most don't. AND WHEN WE CLAPPED, WE WERE POOR ENOUGH THAT OUR CLAPS MADE NOISE.  I moved to Maine in 2001 after living in CT for all of my life prior to that.  It's no different here than it was there; except there are a lot better choices of restaurants and stores outside of major cities.

I was extremely irked by Sharon Rose's depiction of "all people from Connecticut are rich snobs".  On one hand I wondered if she was jealous.  On the other hand, I assumed she's just an idiot.

This isn't the first time I've caught her showing her true colors.  If you take a moment to watch her when either she or Lee Nelson is reading a story, you can tell exactly what she thinks about ANY topic by the way she scrunches up her nose at it, sneers, rolls her eyes, or does any number of things to show her disdain.  Watch closely as a story is read about gay people, the homeless, casinos, abortion rights, Occupy Wall Street, and on and on and on.  She got a stick so far up her ass, her only option is to try and wiggle it out, and every painful attempt can be read all over her face.

I personally am sick and tired of that single-minded, opinionated, prejudiced, bigoted, news-regurgitating blow hard that I can't stand another minute of it. 

To those of you who disagree - YES - I CHANGED THE CHANNEL.  The only reason I was watching WCSH in the first place was because they managed to the first to start broadcasting the local news in High Definition.  I mostly put up with WCSH for a few weeks because the weather graphics are so cool.  But let's face it, WMTW should have been the one to do it first.  They are the local TV station with the best newscast and the most down the middle reporting.  That's why they win the local Emmy for best newscast in this demographic market (Portland/Lewiston/Auburn).

When I wrote to the WCSH news director, Maureen O'Brien, this was her response to me questioning why Sharon Rose is allowed to behave the way she does:
"I am sorry you were offended by Sharon’scomment. We encourage our anchors to be real people – to laugh and joke and react like other people do, particularly in the morning. I understand that this approach is not everyone’s cup of tea.."
 NOT EVERYONE'S CUP OF TEA???.  Making fun of an entire State and making judgments about the people who live there, without knowing what the hell you are talking about, is not a "joke".  It's offensive.  Sharon Rose doesn't "react like other people".  She reacts like herself; a narrow-minded, glorified copy girl, who has nothing but disdain for anyone who doesn't think like she does.  She's a conservative, middle-class, bigot.  And since the management as WCSH stands by her and allows her behavior each and every day, they must be bigots and racists too.  What other conclusion is there to make.

I was stupid to expect an apology from either WCSH or Ms. Rose.  I don't know why I was disappointed I didn't get one even when I specifically asked for one.  I guess that's why they invented blogs.

Friday, November 4, 2011

WCSH 6 Morning Report in High Def

It's been several years now since I have watched WCSH Channel 6 in Portland, for my morning news. Watching it was a habit; it's what "people" watched when I first moved to Maine in 2001 and so I got in the habit of watching it. But never really cared much for the hosts.

When Shannon Moss defected to Channel 8 - WMTW, I began watching Channel 8 for my morning news. Channel 8's newscast was professional and easy to watch. The other competition, Channel 13, WGME, was always a distant third in my book, and in the ratings.

Channel 8 took a big bite out of WCSH's domination of the morning news market. WCSH had become stale, and full of big-egoed anchors that often rolled their eyes at news stories and often voiced their right-wing opinions openly; something that is supposed to be an absolute no-no in the world of journalism. But the viewership never questioned Sharon Rose's opinion about certain stories.

OK - jump to today. I've always said that whoever can do the news in HD in our local Portland/Lewiston television market will win the ratings game. Viewers who have HD televisions will, in general, watch an HD broadcast over a standard definition broadcast, even if the HD broadcast wouldn't normally be their first choice in programming.

I will try to be fair. My opinions on WCSH are not a secret. But they did a good job. I caught the broadcast today, Friday, November 4, 2011, when the morning News Center team celebrating their 15th anniversary. Seeing a live news HD broadcast in Maine was a pleasure and something I have been waiting for since I started this blog in 2007 and long before the official transition to Digital TV in this country in 2008. The anchors, Lee Nelson and Sharon Rose, were still as insipid as they've always been. But Lee Nelson actually looked good in his HD makeup. Whoever did it did a great job. Kevin Mannix, the weather forecaster, also looked great. Unfortunately, the unforgiving bright lights and camera lenses of high definition were not so kind to Sharon Rose. She looks like a corpse in HD; the "false eye lashes" were way over the top and appeared like two frightened spiders caught in a flashlight beam.

Like most HD local news broadcasts, field camera work is still in standard definition. That will come in time. But the most impressive addition to WCSH's broadcast was the weather. The new weather maps were large, crisp, and easy to read. New graphics, like three dimensional surface-map icons (take a look at the high and low pressure icons on the map with circular three-dimensional wind circulation) were cool. There seemed to be many new graphic features and they didn't overpower the map; they added functionality to it. Often, when new technology is available, it is used because it is available regardless of the value it adds. Not true with WCSH's weather graphics - job well done.

The other local affiliates in our demographic market, WMTW and WGME, have to make the switch to broadcasting in HD or they will lose a lot of viewers. It is expensive to convert a studio to an HD studio, and the hardware (cameras, editing equipment, etc.) and software needed is extremely expensive and requires a hefty financial commitment from each station's ownership.

I'm happy that Southern Maine finally has an HD news broadcast. I'm disappointed that it was WCSH to do it first, but I have to admit, overall they did a very good job that will only get better as HD broadcasting in local markets matures.

Now come on WMTW!! Let's get with the program (no pun intended). WGME, to me, is out of the running. Even with an HD broadcast they will still be in third place, out of three.

I will continue to watch WMTW for my news. I simply can not stomach the on-air personalities. I will continue to hope that WMTW goes HD for their news and I may check in on WCSH form time to time, just because HD is so much easier on the eyes.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Metrocast Cable finally adds some HD channels

Welcome to 2007 - oh wait, it's 2011.

Metrocast Cable (formerly Metrocast Cablevision) is not one of the country's big players when it comes to cable TV. From the Metrocast web site: "Metrocast serves over 135 communities in the states of New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut, South Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama "

That's not a lot of customers when compared to the big guys like Tiime Warner and Comcast. I"ve been struggling with Metrocast for years; trying desperately to get them to add more HD channels to their pitiful HD lineup. When not including "reality" TV (meaning sports, nature, and educational channels) there was a total of 2, count 'em, two cable channels that carried movies and/or classic live action TV shows in High Definition. They were TBS-HD, and TNT-HD. Sure, they carried our local TV stations, but I"m talking about actual cable networks that broadcast actual TV shows - not DIY, not shows about interventions, or following murder investigations, or animal abuse. I'm talking about one-hour dramas and comedy shows. You know, we used to call it "television".

Every time I would contact Metrocast I would get an answer like "Well, we just added The Outdoor Channel". GREAT! I can sit around and watch some guy fish for 3 hours. I was told to submit an online request for the channels I wanted, which I did, over and over and over again.

I checked around with my friends in other towns, and in other states. The list of HD channels they had was astounding to me, on one hand. On the other, I wasn't astounded, I was pissed. Why couldn't Metrocast provide its customers with the same HD channels that the rest of the WORLD was getting. After 4 years of this, I assume they finally figured out how to provide HD channels that viewers actually want. This morning I saw an advertisement for Metrocast on MSNBC (which happnens to be a channel I've been requesting in HD since it started in HD last year). In one part of the ad, it mentioned that Metrocast had added USA in HD and FOX News in HD.

I quickly turned to the on screen guide. I frantically started looking for these channels - nothing. So I called Metrocast this morning and asked them about it. I told the CSR that I saw the advertisement but I don't have these channels. She said "they won't be available until March 1". Well, I had to admit, that was good enough for me. After waiting for years, I can wait one more week. As of March 1, 2011, Metrocast will be adding the following HD channels:

AMC HD (channel 755), USA HD (channel 751), Oxygen HD (channel 719), Fox News HD (channel 742), Lifetime HD (channel 733), Lifetime Movie Network HD (channel 772), SyFy HD (channel 756), Bravo HD (channel 754), FX HD (channel 749), and Travel HD (channel 770). Meanwhile, Outdoor Channel HD will move to channel 779.

It's not perfect. MSNBC-HD should be in the lineup. If you're going to include CNN and FOX News in HD, why not MSNBC. It makes no sense. And no Comedy Central. Apparently the owners of Metrocast are right wing conservatives, probably tea party activists. Not only did they omit MSNBC and Comedy Central (Jon Stewart) from the lineup, they also did not include any of the Gay/Lesbian TV channels like HERE! or LOGO.

Having said that, I can't complain too much. FX, USA, and Bravo were 3 of the HD channels that I had been begging for. And it's nice to know I can still watch southern white trash gut a fish in glorious HD if I happen to be in the mood.

Oh and congratulations to Metrocast for finally dragging itself into the FIRST decade of the new millennium. You're only a decade behind - not bad.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

My Final Posting

** Update 12/1/2011 - Obviously, I'm back.  I decided not to shut down this blog as there may be things I feel that need to write about from time to time.


Here is the state of affairs, as I see it, for High Definition TV.

The big 7 broadcast networks are broadcasting most of their programming in High Definition. that's a good thing. Even most of the daily soap operas (for as long as they may last) are in High Definition. I can't believe that it finally happened.

In the big cities, local news is in High Definition. In smaller cities, it could be years before that happens but they are all working in that direction.

It is still free to receive High Definition broadcasts, over the air, from your local affiliates. THAT'S A VERY GOOD THING. And keep in mind that your local broadcasters can offer two, or in some cases three or four, channels from one broadcast tower. So give them a shot. Get a good quality Antenna (you all know I recommend the Terk) and check out what's happening on your local affiliates' sub-channels.

As for cable and satellite - I'm still very disappointed. Most "high def" channels do not actually broadcast 100% in high definition. Some of the programming is in the HD aspect ratio of 16:9, but not in HD quality. A whole lot of it is still just stretched out (from 4:3) to fit your screen and is as bad in quality as it was before. But they all like to call it HD. Keep them honest.

A few HD cable/satellite channels do a better job of providing real, quality HD programs. One of them is CNN. Also the Discovery networks do a fairly good job. As does PBS. But so many of them just call themselves HD because their picture fills up your HDTV's screen. It really is a shame how much they try to fool the TV-watching public.

If you are really watching a 720p or 1080i High Definition broadcast, you will know it, because you will marvel at it. Any time you wonder if the program you are watching is in HD, it isn't. Because if it was, you wouldn't be wondering.

I am moving on to other things. Over the last few years I've become very involved in the world of Blackberry. I am writing for other web sites and moderating user forums. It's become my new hobby and since there are no big changes going on in High Definition, It's time to put this blog to rest. I'll stop back and write a bit if anything newsworthy happens.

The one big thing left to take hold is TV over the Internet. Not to your PC, but to your TV. It will take a while before it all gets straightened out. There will be winners and losers; some people will spend money on new devices that they will love, and some will be disappointed. To me, it's all about the picture quality. That's why I got started down this path to begin with.

Don't accept less than perfect when it comes to high definition. If you are not getting what you pay for, then fight for it.

For my regular readers, we've been down a long road. I hope I was able to help, and teach, and offer information that was important or helpful. When I looked back at all of the articles I wrote, I forgot that it's been more than 4 years since I started. I moved this blog from another blogging location, so the first posting data on this site was December 2007. But I started this blog originally in 2006.

I want to the Doug Finck, from WPXT/WPME. He has been a fervent supporter of mine, and this blog, and has provided me with so much useful information that I can never truly thank him properly. He knew that my goal was to get information to to public, so that they could make informed decisions, and know the truth about high definition broadcasting. I wish him the best.

Until we meet again.........