CNN HD Debuts
Network Is in Transition to Fully High-Def News
CNN on Saturday launched CNN HD, a high-definition simulcast of its existing network, which will feature original series shot in HD as well as regular news programming.
“We’ve known HD technology is out there and we’ve been planning from a technical point for some time,” said Bob Hesskamp, VP of CNN Broadcast Engineering and Systems Technology. “CNN is available on a variety of platforms already, and now it will be available in HD.”
DirecTV has confirmed it will carry CNN HD, with launch scheduled for mid-September. CNN would not comment specifically on other carriage deals, but did say it was in negotiations.
CNN shows that originate in New York will be produced in high def. The network’s newsgathering will be a mix of high definition and standard definition.
“Like with any news organization, we have a large legacy of library material in standard definition,” said Mr. Hesskamp, “and we’ll use that stuff forever.”
However, efforts will be made to up-convert content as much as possible, he added. The network has already begun the process of converting some of its current news segments.
CNN will continue to upgrade its facilities around the world by replacing existing equipment with high-def versions.
The ultimate goal is to have CNN be a news organization that shoots entirely in HD, but Mr. Hesskamp admits it’s not something that will happen overnight.
“We’re a global news organization, so it’s a significant endeavor to replace equipment and upgrade the current infrastructures,” he said.
Although CNN has been actively working on the launch of the HD simulcast for a little over a year, the network had been preparing itself for an eventual HD launch for nearly three years. The New York set was constructed with HD in mind, and several existing studios and control rooms have been upgraded over the years to be HD-ready.
CNN is preparing to air its first high-def documentary, “Planet in Peril,” in late October. CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta and Animal Planet host Jeff Corwin are part of the project, which aims to address environmental issues threatening the planet.
“From the video we’ve seen so far, it’s incredible,” Mr. Hesskamp said. “I think, after all, we’re telling stories and the great video will help us to bring our viewers closer to the stories and report in a way we’ve never been able to do before.”
The network plans to do other documentaries and is currently in the process of shooting some in HD, but wouldn’t offer further details.
In addition, CNN HD will shoot the next presidential debate in high-def and plans to cover more large special events in HD.