In Depth

Syndication Ready for HD Boost

Pathfire System Capable of HD Delivery

Warner Bros. and syndication distribution network Pathfire are gearing up to distribute more HD content than ever this fall.

The companies this week announced the creation of the first file-based HD syndication delivery service, capable of delivering HD content to more than 1,400 broadcast facilities.

"We now have the ability to send HD shows to any Pathfire station," said Joe Fabiano, Pathfire's chief technology officer. "We can encode a show, compress it, send it over satellite and have it play out successfully."

Pathfire is the primary distribution method for the majority of shows in syndication, including CBS Television Distribution's "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "Jeopardy" and Warner Bros.' "Friends."

Thus far, only CBS's "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune" have been syndicated in the format. Due to technical limitations, the game shows have been distributed in a cumbersome linear format that requires a certain degree of manpower. The new Pathfire system will automate the process and allow syndication of HD material as easily as standard-definition material.

Limitations still exist, however, on either side of the delivery system. Studios have been sluggish converting syndicated shows to HD, while stations have been slow to upgrade their HD broadcasting capabilities. At last count, "Wheel" and "Jeopardy" were going out in HD to only about a third of households.

Mr. Fabiano said to expect "a lot" of new HD content when the Pathfire HD system launches this fall.


This article is part of TVWeek.com's High Definition newsletter, a weekly source of breaking HD news, articles and interviews written by Senior Reporter James Hibberd.

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