Hi-def Letterman

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The Late Show with David Letterman will go high-definition starting next September, CBS
executives told stations at the affiliate-board meeting in New Orleans
Monday.

That was the good news. The bad news was that "March Madness" will wind up
eating into station's access time periods this year.

Letterman's studio is already in the process of being retrofitted for HD, CBS
said.

As for the long-term future of HD broadcasting on the network, that will
depend on the programmers and tech types coming to some agreement on copy
protection.

Asked by one of the station executives whether Viacom Inc. president Mel
Karmazin was serious about abandoning hi-def absent copy protection, CBS
operations and engineering executive Bob Ross said Karmazin is "as serious as a
heart attack."

The Letterman news was well received.

Less well received was word from the network that it was moving up the start
times of four weekday "Road to the Final Four" NCAA basketball games to 7 p.m.,
pre-empting lucrative access time slots.

When affiliates asked why, CBS responded that the network "needs the money"
from the additional premium ad space.

On the news front, the network made a pitch to work closely with the
affiliates to create better transitions from local time into network news
programming, capitalizing on that time as another cross-promotional
opportunity.

Bob Lee, head of the CBS affiliate board, said that all things considered,
the meeting between network and stations was "quite positive."

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