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HD Television: Nat Geo in Total HD Mode

May 2, 2005  •  Post A Comment

National Geographic Channel has instituted a new programming strategy to ramp up its high-definition production this year as it prepares for the possible launch of an HD service. National Geographic hasn’t said what form the service will take or when and if it will launch, but the network has begun telling producers that shooting in HD is the rule, not the exception.

“We are saying if you are not going to produce in HD, we don’t want it,” said John Ford, the channel’s executive VP of programming. Producers now must have a waiver if they want to shoot in standard definition. Limited exceptions are possible.

Under the new approach, National Geographic expects to have collected 150 hours of content in HD by January 2006. By then, about 60 percent of the network’s prime-time schedule will be available in HD, with close to 100 percent in HD by the end of 2006, said Laureen Ong, president of National Geographic Channel.

“There is no doubt when you think about HD, that our brand is synonymous with HD,” Ms. Ong said. “It’s not a matter of if, but when.”

Fox Cable Networks, which distributes National Geographic Channel, has not yet approved an HD channel. Options under discussion include a high-definition simulcast of the National Geographic Channel and HD content offered on-demand.

An April study by Beta covering cable brands found that consumers ranked National Geographic as the network they’d most like to see in HD.