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Onya Southern Cross Tas

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It was interesting tonight flicking between the footy tonight on SCX and the WIN WA feed of the same game. Because WIN WA get CH9 and CH10 programs, they choose to broadcast the CH10 game live (with a HUGE WIN watermark over the TEN one) and they centre cut it to 4:3 for their analogue and satellite viewers. However, SCX in tas choose to put it to air live also, but they give analogue viewers (plus the digital retransmission at the moment) the 16:9 feed cropped at 14:9. Despite the WIN WA feed being a higher quality digital satellite feed, everyone at my place watching said to leave it on SCX's 14:9 version. We were viewing on a nobrand 68cm 4:3 tv and my mates in the room thought that the 14:9 by far better. It makes me think, why don't all broadcasters make this the standard for all 16:9 programs transmitted on the existing analogue services?

I noticed that WIN WA do this with nearly all 16:9 sources, and it was particularly bad with Australian Idol the other night. I had seen the first half hour of SCX's 14:9 analogue feed at a friend's place, and when I got home (2 hours later) flicked on the WIN WA feed to watch the remaining half hour. Every time on screen text was displayed, including voting numbers and visual announcements, it was alarming how much information was actually cropped. Not only that, but it looked extremely messy and unprofessional. Maybe it's the fault of the persons responsible for the positioning of the graphics originally, but still I think that WIN WA should be showing it in 14:9.

So good work SCX, it'll be good when they give us TRUE 16:9... and it’s good to see that they're looking after analogue viewers too. Sounds like the WIN WA engineering team aren't much chop, just be thankful that we're not two steps back... with the viewing provided in regional WA!

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Yet again this comes to ARCing issues. Ian Reid informed me that it's Southern Cross Broadcasting's policy (Australia wide) to show all 16x9 shows as 14x9 on analogue. Even shows that have a 4x3 "safe area". It's an excellent policy IMHO.

WIN on the other hand simply centre cut all material that has a 4x3 safe area, and for shows that don’t have a 4x3 safe zone (movies etc) they "window box" (surrounded by a black border on all sides) on digital, so that they when they centre cut the feed for analogue, its magically in 14x9. This is all because they are too cheap to install a proper aspect ratio converter using wide screen signalling, that can switch between 14x9 and 4x3, depending on source.

14x9 for analogue makes sense, as not only does it ensure that analogue viewers get to see at least most of the action (as you noted it makes a big difference over 4x3), but it gets them used to that fact that widescreen is now the norm, and that if they upgrade to digital they can not only see more action, but get rid of the annoying little "black bars".

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