Sinclair Launches Own HDTV Pitch

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Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., historically one of the most active and outspoken groups on the issue of digital TV, is speaking out again.

This time in a series of public service announcements promoting HDTV service on free TV. The move is a response to what Sinclair sees as the National Association of Broadcasters' failure to adequately promote free HDTV service. Sinclair is not a member of NAB

"What is NAB doing to promote free over-the-air HDTV today," asks Mark Aitken, director of advanced technology. "We believe that the recent advances in receivers by Zenith and (parent) LG make free, over-the air-HDTV a proposition that works well for viewers. NAB seems to be missing that"

NAB spokesman Jeffrey Yorke says  the association has been promoting HDTV "for years," both independently and with the Consumer Electronics Association, with spots running on stations around the country. "It is an ongoing, 'zillion' dollar effort all the time. It's good to have them [Sinclair] on board.

"Saying the public is "largely uninformed about the availability of free HDTV programming on TV stations" as contrasted with pay TV options, Sinclair has produced 10, 20 and 30-second spots which it will begin running on its 62 stations in September, and is even making available free to competitors.

"Sinclair wants to raise awareness among consumers and retailers that they don't need expensive cable or satellite hookups to watch the Super Bowl, world Series, or the latest network drama or comedy in HDTV," says new tech VP Nat Ostroff.

Sinclair says the release of the campaign, "Free TV...Honest Answers" is meant to coincide with the release of fifth-generation receivers that permit HDTV reception using indoor antennas. It will also dovetail with the launch of Fox's prime time in HD. Sinclair has 18 Fox affiliates.

Sinclair was an early critic of suggestions that the FCC's chosen 8-VSB HDTV transmission standard achieved acceptable reception with indoor antennas, but was converted after improvements in receiver technology demonstrated to the company's satisfaction that both viewers and stockholders would be served by over-the-air HDTV.

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