Fox Exec Bullish on HDR, CBS VP Says Network "Hasn't Made Any Decision Yet"

Execs offered views on HDR during a panel Wednesday at the HPA Tech Retreat.
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The broadcasters panel at the HPA Tech Retreat.

Hollywood has started to produce some high dynamic range (HDR) motion pictures and home entertainment. And at January's CES, all of the major set makers showed TVs with HDR capabilities and touted its potential. But what do the broadcasters think?

Speaking Wednesday at the Hollywood Professional Association (formerly Hollywood Post Alliance) Tech Retreat in Palm Springs, a panel of broadcasters expressed strong interest in HDR — meaning a wider range between the whitest whites and blackest blacks — though not all have specific plans to deliver this feature.

“When we launch ATSC 3.0 [the developing, voluntary, IP-based broadcast transmission system], you’ll see HDR,” asserted Richard Friedel, executive vp and general manager of engineering and operations at Fox Networks.

CBS is more cautious. Said CBS vp engineering and advanced technology Bob Seidel: “We are studying it extensively and doing testing, but haven’t made any decisions yet.”

For numerous speakers, the target is HDR in HD resolution, not 4K Ultra HD (four times the resolution of HD), which is also the direction of TV makers.

PBS CTO Mario Vecchi reported that “PBS sees value in HDR, before 4K. It’s more cost effective for us as distributors, and for consumers, it has bigger impact."

David Siegler, vp technical operations at Cox Media Group, agreed. “We like the efficiency of HDR over 4K. It looks just about as good and we think it’s the best bang for your buck,” he said.

That's also the reasoning at Sinclair Broadcast Group. Explained senior vp and CTO Del Parks: "Our TV stations have expensive infrastructures, and to move to Ultra HD requires a huge amount of money. But most could do 1080p [HD], 60 frames per second with HDR. For Sinclair, that's our target. We'll start looking at how do to that."

During another panel on Wednesday, it was restated that Japan has been testing a different approach and expects to begin 8K (16 times the resolution of HD) commercial broadcasting during 2018.