NAB: Broadcasters Aired HD First

Editor: With all due respect to my friends at B&C, I must confess disappointment with your Nov. 26 cover story, “HD Special Report,” and the staggering lack of acknowledgement of the broadcast industry's tremendous leadership role in the arena of high-definition television.

In both your lead story (“HD Offerings Climb”) and one of the major sidebars (“Wider World of HD”), B&C swoons over the offerings of cable, satellite and telephone companies, with nary a mention that they are all playing HD catch-up to network and local broadcasters.

It takes the reader until page 25 (in a well-written piece by Michael Malone) to find any mention whatsoever of broadcaster HD efforts. And even there, the accompanying chart fails to note that stations like Post-Newsweek's WDIV-TV Detroit have begun offering local news in HDTV.

Despite investing billions of dollars with no guarantee that a single dime of this expense would be recouped, it was the broadcast networks and their affiliate partners who first exposed most Americans to the most dazzling TV pictures the world has ever seen.

With few exceptions, commercial and public broadcasters were for years the only game in town when it came to HDTV programming. Indeed, if this were a horse race, broadcasters would be regarded as the Secretariat of programmers, lapping the competition offered by cable and satellite.

We are delighted that our pay-TV friends are finally jumping on the HDTV bandwagon. But make no mistake: The drivers of this revolution were and are America's free, local, over-the-air broadcasters.

Dennis Wharton
Executive VP, Media Relations
National Assoc. of Broadcasters
Washington, D.C.