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Did we really lose ABC HD?

Before you lament the loss of ABC HD too much, remember that there wasn't much true high definition content on it anyway.

There’s been a fair bit of talk lately about ABC sacrificing ABC HD in order to launch ABC News 24.

But the reality is there was limited true high definition content being broadcast. The rest of ABC HD was upscaled content with many titles not even purchased in HD.

It is also true that very little of the content on ABC News 24 is being produced in true high definition.

The Sydney Morning Herald today notes the Broadcasting Services Act stipulates networks must air at least 1040 hours of HD content a year but this includes material converted from standard definition. It says ABC was in a difficult position. Having launched ABC2 in 2005 and ABC3 last year, it had no spectrum left to carry a new channel.

Viewers will already remember losing TEN drama and light entertainment shows from HD when ONE was launched.

Another scribe in The Brisbane Times says, “If the ABC wants to screen 24 hour news, that’s fine. If the ABC wants to cater to the under fives, that’s fine as well. But why not do it in such as way that doesn’t screw over existing viewers?”

ABC’s view of the situation is that it will re-assess its use of HD once the switch to digital is complete around the country -as far off as 2013.

Gaven Morris, Head of Continuous News already told TV Tonight this week, “All the broadcasters are going to have to think long and hard about the use of their HD in the short term, but by 2013 when analogue gets switched off and everybody has access to digital television we could all be in a different scenario as to which channels they might like to put where.”

But while the net loss of true HD content may have been minimal, it still doesn’t excuse the fact that HD television in this country continues to be maligned while we’re all being told to make the switch.

43 Responses

  1. @ Steven guy. thankyou. accepted. And you are right. I was watching a hawk and magpie flying thru the sky this evening, battling each other for turf with the sunset in the back ground. When I used my car keys to rewind the scene I knew I had to lay off the remote for a while..just a little while mind.
    @ Josh. amen brother. will start a religion where we use ripped up pieces of the tv guide as the communal wafer.

  2. @Josh: One extra channel is enough per network. I say that because both GO! & 7two are becoming increasingly rubbish channels, so to allow then to do another one, particularly if it’s just ‘general entertainment’, would just further degrade their brand.

    I think seven and nine néed to relaunch their second digital channels and make them more specialised- focusing on a particular genre, such as documentaries, lifestyle or movies- just as ten did with its ONEhd and abc’s news 24.

  3. @ steven guy – sorry but im on snapper jack’s side! As soon as TV becomes a religion i will join (that is as long as the religion can only be seen on a channel like Australian Cristian Channel =p )

  4. @ManoMan

    I have just rigged up a HD set-top box to an “oldish” CRT receiver. ABC News 24 is clear, but text is furry. Also, people’s heads and bodies are elongated, squashed from both sides. I have two screen ratios available on the STB – 4:3 and 16:9. However, result is the same on both. The set itself has no option to change screen ratios.

    Anyone know what’s happening here?

  5. I made a comment on one of the threads on the Channel Ten forums about digital tv and their upcoming third channel and I said I believe all channels should have their main channel their HD channel (9 HD, 7HD and 10HD) and then their additional 2 SD channels their extra channels (with ONE HD being removed and only broadcast in SD). This is my opinion as so much of the content on the main channels is made in HD and it is such a disappointment to see shows on 9 and 7 in HD and not 10. This is my opinion. And in regards to ABC HD im not a fan of ABC in general so i wasnt to worried with them losing their HD channel but i believe it will be a shame if that is to happen to the commercial channels

  6. Thats true, but only if you are silly enough to leave your tv on the same channel all day. 99.48% of people who watch (or will watch) abc news 24 on an LCD or plasma won’t be keep their tv on that channel 24 hours a day 7 days a week. In fact, most people don’t have their tvs on for more than a couple of hours a day, so they’re never, ever going to have to worry about the issue of screen burn in.

    Sure abc could make the logo semi transparent, but they would also have to do the same to the news ticker at the bottom of the screen, and that would be impractical.

    Unless you have a first generation plasma, I would worry about screen burn in.

  7. Rules for HD for the ABC/SBS differ a little meaning upscaled is allowed to count as HD but reality is until digital fully takes over and anti-siphoning rules are resolved (shortly) crazy stuff like B&W movies on HD channels and new US content on 2nd digital low resolution channels will continue. The digital market needs at east another year to mature to have 2 of 3 TV viewers which should be the tipping point for Govt to start noting future changes to rules.

  8. ABC just hasn’t thought about their channels and how to make best use of their bandwidth. ABC2 or ABC3 could become ABC1 HD between 8.30pm-10.30pm, and leave ABC News 24 for the SD channel. It really annoys me how childrens programming is on ABC1,2 & 3 all day.

  9. Paull even LCD TVs get burn in. I’ve seen security split views (you know where 4 cameras appear in each corner) and the white cross shape burns in good.

    And who says that more bandwidth on the HD channel would help the upscaled SD content from ABC1? I wonder how bad that stuff is originally, didnt the ABC just save a bomb on cheap studios and no staff?
    Would the same be true of other production gear? Perhaps their in house transmission of pictures from state news room to newsroom could suffer bandwidth restriction? It is a simple way to save money after all.

  10. Neon Kitten, there may be viewers that are watching HD via a STB into an old tube TV without letterboxing. Bang ther goes overscan text.

    Also, I would guess that they can still sell into markets that are very 4:3, like America or much of asia. They all want stories sourced from local prodiucers like the ABC. we certainly get it from them, have you seen the midday news? American ABC and CBC stories mostly 4:3 and ugly.

  11. @Neon Kitten: your point may have been a valid one, if abc actually aired more than 2-3 HD programmes per week. But the last couple of years have proven they aren’t willing to.

    The loss of abcHD doesn’t even compare to the loss of TenHD- channel ten had a great HD channel going for all of 2008, then sacrificed it for one HD (which isn’t a bad channel, it’s just that the rights and airing of the sports that I’m into tend to be with either 7 or nine.

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