September 7, 2006
Star Trek Not in HD After All: HD Growing Pains

As a follow-up to the post I wrote last week, James Hibberd has written an update. It appears that, despite the fact that Star Trek episodes from the original 1960s series have ben digitally remastered, fans who watch the shows in syndication will be watching the same Star Trek as always, as the high-definition facelift will not be translating into high-definition distribution through the stations who have purchased the episodes for syndication.

As Hibberd writes, everyone is "pointing fingers in different directions" as to how this content won't be reaching viewers in HD. CBS Paramount blames the station for not having high-definition capabilities, while the stations are blaming Paramount's content relay service for the problems. Further, CBS Paramount says that stations do not have the handling capacity for airing their shows in high-definition and generally just broadcast them becuase they don't have room for storage, but Hibberd points out that, with the revamped HD look of game shows like Jeapordy and Wheel of Fortune set to go live, these arguments are a little dubious.

Hibberd writes, "The confusion puts a spotlight on stumbling blocks for television executives tasked with delivering shows in high definition. As distributors, networks and station groups race to meet consumer demand for HD content, they're discovering unanticipated problems that are complicating the spread of the super-crisp format."

I'm taking a course at MIT now called Media in Transition, and research always finds that some of the most compelling arguments and the most revealing discussions come at a time when technological changes sweep through the industry or, more precisely, when executives are trying to figure out how to best utilize a new technology. And high-definition is bringing out some of these arguments. The new technology may provide better picture quality than ever before, but no industry transition is an easy one, this one included.

So, for the time being, high-definition is going to lead to arguemnts over which DVD format to use, the place of 3-D technology, and issues of syndicated series like these.