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No HD on Fox HD

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Old 04-21-2009, 12:44 PM   #1
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Default No HD on Fox HD

I pretty much only watch Fox on Sunday evenings, so this may not be true all the time. But I've noticed that The Simpsons, which is now in HD, is not on my Fox HD channel. It doesn't fill the screen and the quality is similar to what is on the Fox SD channel. I also started noticing that nothing else that's supposed to be in HD, including commercials, was either. All the 16:9 content I watched last Sunday was slightly too small, with black bars on all four sides. If anything, the picture quality was somewhat worse than on the Fox SD channel, presumably because it is scaled up.

What's up with this? Is this true everywhere, or just for my Fox affiliate (Pittsburgh)? What's the point of having an HD channel and HD content to show on it, then not showing it in HD? To me, this is even worse than AMC, where they regularly show SD content stretched.
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Old 04-21-2009, 01:21 PM   #2
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Many stations still treat their digital operation as a secondary effort. I think this will change when they cut off the analog channel and they have to monitor what they are sending on the digital channel. I blame the delay in the cut off myself. Our ABC station is the worse in Houston at not flipping the switch coming back from commercials!
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Old 04-21-2009, 07:39 PM   #3
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Where I live Fox is definitely the worst of the main HD channels like NBC, CBS, and ABC. I love 24 and it never looks quite right. Sometimes it even looks really bad. On the other hand, live sporting events look great of Fox.
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Old 05-11-2009, 02:14 PM   #4
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The Simpsons was in HD last night for the first time ever, for me anyway. Well, mostly. It was in HD for the first 25 minutes, but then reverted back to the shrunken, black-bars-on-all sides picture after the last commercial. At least that's better than no HD at all. Nice to know what I've been missing.

And after the Simpsons, everything else was in that crappy, non-HD format. I guess the true HD was just a mistake and once discovered they reverted back for the rest of the night.
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Old 05-11-2009, 04:46 PM   #5
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I subscribe to a free on line TV guide which shows which programs on which channels is OTA broadcast in HD or not.

A quick check today shows my local fox is not doing the HD thing for the Simpsons but is doing the HD thing for Seinfeld.

As it is, my greater concern is my lack of any local Fox multicasts, I am not sure if Fox will forever spurn multicasts or not?

In the way of a poll, do other Fox affiliates also have no multicasts?
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Old 05-11-2009, 06:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NonMcTubber View Post
I subscribe to a free on line TV guide which shows which programs on which channels is OTA broadcast in HD or not.

A quick check today shows my local fox is not doing the HD thing for the Simpsons but is doing the HD thing for Seinfeld.

As it is, my greater concern is my lack of any local Fox multicasts, I am not sure if Fox will forever spurn multicasts or not?

In the way of a poll, do other Fox affiliates also have no multicasts?
I read somewhere they don't because the OTA HD requires the entire 19mbps bandwidth to produce the best HD picture. To multicast requires a reduction in bandwidth for the HD channel. One year during the NFL playoffs our CBS station shut off the secondary channels I guess for the same reason. There was a marked reduction in pixelation that year.
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Old 05-11-2009, 07:22 PM   #7
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Why is it that I suspect that rbinck may be comparing cable or uverse apples to OTA oranges by saying, "To multicast requires a reduction in bandwidth for the HD channel. One year during the NFL playoffs our CBS station shut off the secondary channels I guess for the same reason. There was a marked reduction in pixelation that year."

Because many channels I now get OTA do offer a X.1 HD broadcast along with up to two or more other multicasts in lower definition. Not sure where the upper limit is OTA HD plus multicasts are, but cable, uverse, and OTA may be horses of different colors.
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Old 05-11-2009, 08:10 PM   #8
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I was talking about OTA. I don't know why you would think that. While I have U-verse I watch the broadcast networks mainly on my OTA tuner or DVR because the picture quality is slightly better. Most of the stations here in Houston have sub-channels as well. FOX dosen't.
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Old 05-11-2009, 08:33 PM   #9
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I was talking about OTA. I don't know why you would think that. While I have U-verse I watch the broadcast networks mainly on my OTA tuner or DVR because the picture quality is slightly better. Most of the stations here in Houston have sub-channels as well. FOX dosen't.
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Ok rbinck, thanks for clarifying the apples and oranges question, and I may have been wrong. But still wondering why the Fox network does not get aboard the multicast bandwagon?
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Old 05-11-2009, 08:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Ok rbinck, thanks for clarifying the apples and oranges question, and I may have been wrong. But still wondering why the Fox network does not get aboard the multicast bandwagon?
My guess is they don't want to sacrifice their HD quality.
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Old 05-12-2009, 08:22 AM   #11
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Quote:
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But still wondering why the Fox network does not get aboard the multicast bandwagon?
Forgive my ignorance, but could you tell me what a multicast is and why it has its own bandwagon?
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Old 05-12-2009, 09:46 AM   #12
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Forgive my ignorance, but could you tell me what a multicast is and why it has its own bandwagon?
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
No problem jabaro, its part of the all new digital technology that comes with the digital transition.

With the old analog stations, a certain part of the transmission spectrum was reserved for that frequency, and above and below that frequencies, other channels could coexist with a certain required frequency space or slot in between each channel

Partly because a digital transmission is more efficient and partly because of compression technologies, one digital channel can separate itself into multiple parts, or multicasts and show up to five separate television programs OTA. For example, I have an ION network that still broadcasts in analog but also in digital on virtual channel 63. On my analog TV tuner, I just get one program in any one given time slot, if I use my digital tuner, in the same time slot, I have 63.1, 63.2. 63.3, and 63.4 each containing totally different content. On another digital station I get 42.1, 42.2, 42.3, 42.4, and 42.5. On other networks, CW and Fox, I get no multicasts at all, and they are respectively just 4.1 and 59.1. On CBS, ABC, and NBC I get their regular network programming in digital HD, and then on X.2, I get a local weather channel and sometimes a local news channel on X.3. All told I get 14 digital channels and a total of 31 separate programming choices.

This applies to OTA reception only, and if you are not familiar with multicasts, I have to assume you get television delivery by cable or a similar means be it satellite or phone line.

In terms of a bandwagon, look at it from the station operators perspective, with only one programming choice per time slot, they are limited in the number of commercial time they can sell,
but with more multicasts, they can sell up to five X the number of commercial minutes and get more revenue. And that revenue can buy better programming as station operators now must scramble harder to attract viewers. And as the market fragments that hopefully allow more diverse
content choices with niche markets no longer pandering to the lowest common denominator usual drivel.
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Last edited by NonMcTubber; 05-12-2009 at 09:55 AM. Reason: add content
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Old 05-12-2009, 10:21 AM   #13
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The problems station operators face is a 1080i or 720p broadcast can take up to the full 19mbps bandwidth of an OTA channel. Each SD broadcast can take up to 5mbps, thus the roughly 4 normal slots. Using the first generation encoders that are fixed the station must divide up the bandwidth to accommodate the different streams. Usually they allocate about 12mbps to the HD channel which is thought of as being the minimum for acceptable HD and about 3.5mpbs to 2 SD sub-channels. Using the latest encoders they can do dynamic allocation of the bitrates which allows the 12mbps to bump up and take away from the other sub-channels.

Due to multicasting I see a great deal of macroblocking on the stations that multicast. For example of this see: When Is HDTV Going to Catch Up?

Personally I would like it better if they would shut off their multicasts during special events and sports to give up a better HD picture. Like on FOX. I rarely see any macroblocking on the FOX network.
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Old 05-12-2009, 12:23 PM   #14
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I will have to say that rbinck has done an excellent job of quantifying the trade off.

Some viewers like me place less stress on super high picture quality and want more content diversity, other viewers will demand a super high picture quality, and television station operators do have the option to shut off their other multicasts for certain high profile programming.

Since the OTA business model is still financed largely by revenue from television commercials, the television station operators will still be driven by maximizing total revenues. The downside is, if the viewers quit watching, the amount of revenue they get per commercial minute drops with it.

It shall be interesting to see how various station managers approach the trade off dilemma. But if 19 million bits per second if the allocated maximum per channel, the only way to get that illusive more may be using more advanced compression techniques, and maybe a subscription market for set top converter boxes may open up later, and they could either stress a higher quality picture or more content diversity.
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Old 05-20-2009, 12:02 PM   #15
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After the second week in a row of 25 minutes of Simpsons in HD followed by some strange not-quite HD format for the last segment, I wrote a comment about it on the Fox affiliate web site. Today I got a call from Fox! He said he was the "transmitter guy" and wanted to hear all about my problem. He said that they broadcast in HD and we should have no problem if we get the signal OTA. Also said it sounds like something Comcast is doing to their signal, and he did not sound too happy to hear about it. Said he's going to get in touch with Comcast and find out what's going on. Even gave me his phone number and said to call him if I see this sort of thing in the future. Cool! Now if only Comcast were as concerned about this sort of thing as Fox is.
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