WLTZ debuts HD newscasts

Becomes first local TV station with the technology

ahernandez@ledger-enquirer.comMay 29, 2008 

Chattahoochee Valley residents can now see newscasts in state-of-theart clarity.

WLTZ NBC -38 began broadcasting its evening newscasts in high definition last week, making it the first local television station to do so, the station announced Wednesday.

“What it means is that we’ll have a clearer picture, superior sound quality, and it’s a wider viewing screen, too,” said Drew Rhodes, WLTZ general manager. “It just looks crystal clear.”

WLTZ, a news partner of the Ledger-Enquirer, offers news at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. weekdays.

Rhodes said this is a big technological milestone, especially for a station that revived its local newscasts in November. The local NBC station had been out of the local news business since 1993.

“That lends us a lot of marketing credibility,” Rhodes said.

As of the end of April, 90 stations were broadcasting in HD in 51 markets across the U.S., according to Television Broadcast, a trade magazine.

In Georgia, two other elevision stations offer local news in HD: WSB-TV and WXIA-TV, both in Atlanta.

In Alabama, Television Broadcast reported WVTMTV in Birmingham as the only HD newscaster.

Expected to become the new standard in television viewing, HDTV is an alldigital broadcasting system that offers better image resolution and better sound than older television sets. To see the difference, one would need an HD television set.

“For the newspaper, it means that our partner will have a competitive advantage visually in the market,” said Ben Holden, executive editor of the Ledger-Enquirer. “Of course, as the new kid on the block, they still have ground to make up with the more established players in this competitive television marketplace.”

WLTZ competes with WTVM, the city’s ABC affiliate, and WRBL, the CBS affiliate. Both stations have a significant news presence, airing news at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 11 p.m. seven days per week. WTVM also airs news at 10 p.m. each day.

As part of their partnership, WLTZ and the Ledger-E n q u i re r s h a re n ew s resources. WLTZ has three local reporters hired by the TV station and uses the Ledger-Enquirer’s nearly 50-person newsroom as well. In exchange, WLTZ provides a four-minute webcast on www.ledger-enquirer.com to supplement the daily newspaper, among other things.

Because it had not offered local newscasts since 1993, WLTZ staffers had to use outdated equipment for its newscasts when they began airing last year. Rhodes said it was more costly to purchase the HD cameras and equipment they have now. But because they had to buy all new equipment anyway, the station decided the topof-the-line upgrade was the way to go.

Rhodes said he hopes implementing HD in their newscasts also will show the station’s efforts to be a “good community servant” — and prove to be reciprocal.

“We hope that we get viewers from doing that,” he said.

Holden said he is a “huge fan” of HD.

“I have two high-definition televisions in my own home, and it makes a huge difference,” he said. “Once you watch HD, you simply don’t want to go back to watching regular television.”

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