Is WGBA cropping 16x9 shows or is this happening on the National Level?

Aaron's picture

Is the cropping of shows such as The Office and SNL being done at WGBA or at the National Level. This is only occuring on 4x3 TVs and really, really makes for a terrible watching experience. These programs are not filmed 4x3 safe and this often results in major parts of the picture being lost. Even my fiance, who doesn't care about aspects or artistic intent to much hates it because she does notice when major characters are cut out of scenes in The Office.

Anybody know of this?

Posted February 4, 2009 5:26pm in
Tom's picture

Over the air, or cable? I'm

Over the air, or cable? I'm fairly certain that all cable headends are downconverting the ota digital signals onto their analog tier. If that's what you're watching, I'm certain it's a center-cut.

Most networks shoot their stuff 4x3 safe, however, so I'm surprised to hear this. Guess I'll have to put my converter on 4x3 and take a look..

Steve's picture

WGBA 26 does this and WTMJ 4

WGBA 26 does this and WTMJ 4 in Milwaukee does not... so it is definitely them.

I noticed this when watching SNL in my bedroom. In my living room in HD it looks fine, but on my old 4x3 TV in my bedroom I just get the center of the 16x9 screen (no black bars on top and bottom).

I usually just switch to WTMJ 4 because I have that option, but it would be annoying if I did not.

Aaron's picture

I've only seen the TWC feed

I've only seen the TWC feed but I assume the OTA-SD would be the same. The fact that WGBA does this and WTMJ does not is quite odd. I sent a letter to WGBA asking why they do this and if they've even seen programming with this cropping active. It looks terrible. I wonder if NBC even cares that their shows are being chopped this bad.

Aaron's picture

I got this reply back from

I got this reply back from WGBA:

"If you are watching us with an antenna your TV or converter box may have
a button to switch between cropped and letterbox. If you have cable then
they crop the signal when they convert it to analog.
There is no good solution to this problem. If they switch to letterbox
all the time then 4:3 shows will be 'postage stamp' sized with a large
black border.

We are working on a system to switch analog cable and satellite viewers
between letterbox and center cut depending on the show"

It seems the issue it at the TWC level but I'm still not sure why this can't be solved.

FoxCitiesTV's picture

I wonder if they spent the

I wonder if they spent the money to convert their facilities to full HD like WFRV did if that would avert this problem. WFRV downconverts their 4x3 analog picture from their 16:9 HD source, which I would guess gives them control over how stuff is keyed. I know CBS seems to make their on-screen graphics and bugs visible inside the 4x3 safe area.

AJBlodgett's picture

Good news to for this

Good news to for this thread...NBC 26 upgraded their graphics for severe weather. It now is broadcast in HD, and does not crop the picture down to 4x3 (yay!). I must say the new graphics for severe weather look better than they did before, less bulk, and take up less space on the screen.


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