At the September 28 meeting...

Is HDTV Really Dead?

Record attendance at our season opener!

By Kevin Lessard

On the first cold New England night of the season, the subject of HDTV provided heat to the first SMPTE meeting of the upcoming year. Over 136 people responded to an open invitation to attend. Guests from SBE, ITVA, AES, Mass Media Alliance, I.B.E.W. Local 1228, N.A.B.E.T. Local 18, and I.A.T.S.E. Local 600 and SMPTE members past and present were treated to a very informative two hour meeting.

Host Mike Keller, Director of Engineering at WCVB, opened the facilities of WCVB-TV and WCVB-DT to the attendants, complete with a post-meeting tour of the station to all who wished to attend.

A distinguished panel gathered from across the country to share their DTV and HDTV experiences to date and answered pointed questions about the current and future issues facing Digital Television’s deployment. Questions were supplied by respondents who answered the request in the September meeting notice to submit their HDTV / DTV questions via email to John Gates, the meeting organizer.


Mr. Charles Robert Ogren
Vice President of Engineering for LIN Broadcasting Corporation

Mr. Ira Goldstone
Vice President of Engineering & Technology for Tribune Broadcasting

Mr. Bruce Lane
Manager, Application Engineering for Grass Valley Group

Mr. Marty Faubell
Vice President of Engineering for Hearst-Argyle Broadcasting

Mr. Mark Schubin
Author, columnist, and consultant

Our moderator Richard Wolf, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Wolf Coach Incorporated, set a comfortable pace and maintained an even keel while directing questions and topics of discussion to the invited guests.

Panelist Mark Schubin responded to the question asked in the meeting title:

"The big answer to the question asked in the meeting title ‘Is HDTV really dead?’ is: No it’s not. It took 25 years for color television penetration in this country to reach 50 percent. It took 19 years for VHS penetration to reach 85 percent.

"Why do we expect that this transition is going to happen overnight? The same complaints we were hearing earlier: ‘The stores aren’t carrying any sets’ and ‘There’s not enough programming’ ... Go read the newspapers from 1954 to 1967 you’ll see exactly the same stuff. Don’t expect these unrealistic goals and we’re doing fine. HDTV is rolling out and the prices are going down. There is more programming happening. We’re actually probably moving faster than color was moving."

Before and after the meeting guests were treated to beautiful images of an HDTV Chronicle episode. The program was shot in 1080i and edited on HD D5. The program was played back at the meeting using Panasonic HD DVCPRO.

This successful meeting was the first in a series of connected meetings on real world issues that face our lively industry. Stay tuned for more...

Kevin Lessard is a Manager of the SMPTE/New England Section and with Video Express. He can be reached at (617) 267-7900, kevinlessard@

Posted: 15 November, 2000
Robert Lamm, SMPTE/New England Newsletter/Web Page Editor