Whatever happened to Widescreen TV?

Saturday 07 Apr 2007 19:59

With the age of High Definition Television upon us, of which widescreen is an integral part, I'd like to ask 'whatever happened to widescreen TV?'. I have had a widescreen television for over 10 years and still it seems the majority of channels and modern programmes are broadcast in the older picture format.

Without getting technical, widescreen television is simply a wider area for the picture. This means you see more of what is going on. Its more natural to look at, great for movies and ideal for sports. Widescreen TV has a ratio of 16:9 (16 units across for every 9 down) and conventional TV has a ratio of 4:3.

So what's the problem? Well, someone always loses out. If a 4:3 TV set owner views a widescreen TV picture they are likely to see a black bar at the top and bottom to squash their picture into the right format. If a widescreen TV shows a 4:3 picture then it looks stretched (most notably people look short and fat).

I have Sky Satellite so I can only give you my point of view for broadcasters on that system in the United Kingdom. Fortunately some channels like the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky have made the move to widescreen. But what about the others?

A quick look at this very moment shows UKTV G2 showing Top Gear in 4:3 letterbox format (made to look widescreen on a 4:3 TV), Living showing the movie City Slickers in 4:3 format, Bravo showing The Unit in 4:3, Discovery showing The Garage in 4:3 letterbox ... and the list goes on.

One particular annoyance is that out of all the documentary channels I have, only National Geographic are broadcasting in widescreen. Well done Nat. Geo! Discovery (not counting their HD channel), History and UKTV are not.

After over 10 years, and with the major broadcasters having already made the change, I think its about time for the other channels to fall in line.

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12 Apr 2007 08:57 by Dude
It's true, and to make matters worse there appear to be a multitude of approaches to 'letterboxing' that make my TV stretch and shrink like a tart's cockpit.

It's enough to give a guy a seizure.