Last night, the CBS Evening News tried to deliver its first broadcast in high-def. Unfortunately, it didn’t go quite as well as planned:
TV Newser: Katie Couric began tonight’s Evening News with, “Good evening, everyone. And welcome to our first broadcast in high definition.” Unfortunately some viewers around the country watching in HD only saw Couric, they couldn’t hear her. While the audio problems were not noticed in most markets, including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Boston, Denver and Atlanta; Washington, DC’s WUSA, did experience the problem. There was no audio for the first 20 seconds of the broadcast. Then, according to the blog DCRTV, “they flipped back to old standard-def version. The HD was re-instated, with audio, about halfway into the newscast.”
It was most likely an error on CBS’s end, but many stations were able to switch to the standard feed quickly enough that it was not noticed at home. Eight minutes into the east coast feed, at approximately 6:38, the HD feed was restored.
But by then, many people who had tuned in to see Couric in HD, had already been emailing TVNewser.
• 6:33 CBS is no longer broadcasting in HD in the Nashville market.• The sound was out for half the show on my affiliate in Chattanooga. Looked good, but couldn’t hear a damn thing.
• I’m watching Katie’s debut in HD. The picture is beautiful, but from 6:30-6:38, there was no audio. Then they switched to the SD feed which had audio. Then back to HD at 6:39 without audio, and right back to the SD feed with audio. I’m watching on WPRI-HD 12 vi Verizon FiOS in Providence, RI
We’re still trying to determine the source of the audio problem. When we learn more from CBS, we’ll pass it on to you.
While TV Newser is quick to peg this as a CBS problem, we wonder if the problem might really lie with the cable service in those areas where Katie couldn’t be heard. After all, if it was a CBS problem, wouldn’t all of the markets have been affected? And we find it hard to believe that several local CBS affiliates would have the same problem. The Providence viewer already said he/she was watching via Verizon FIOS. The problem was also experienced in Washington, D.C. where there’s Comcast and Verizon FIOS, but no Time Warner Cable like there is in NYC. Could Comcast or Verizon have screwed this up? We’d be curious to know the cable providers of the other viewers who couldn’t hear Katie.
UPDATE: TV Newser figured out what happened. It was a technical difficulty at CBS that muted the broadcast. So, we guess Comcast and Verizon can rest easy.
TV Newser: According to a CBS News spokesperson, “The MetaData inserter which passed qualification testing prior to last night failed at the beginning of the broadcast. Some east coast stations were affected briefly, but the rest of the country was not. The problem has been fixed.”
It’s always the damn MetaData inserter.
Anyway, we weren’t satisfied with that answer, so upon further questioning, here’s what else we learned.
The audio MetaData card that failed is what tells the system what the audio is: stereo, 5.1, whatever. So, the MetaData inserter failed and the Dolby encoder that prepares the audio for the network distribution muted channels 1&2. CBS uses a setting called 2+2 which signifies channels 1&2 for stereo and 7&8 for SAP (second audio program). Last night, Channels 7&8 were fine and also had audio on them.
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