New WB Shows in High-Def

The WB Television Network and Chicago-based Tribune Broadcasting announced Wednesday, August 21 that they would provide five hours per week of original high definition digital programming beginning this fall. The 1080i broadcasts will begin September 12, according to a joint announcement by Jed Petrick, WB Network president, and Pat Mullen, Tribune Television president.

"We are excited to embrace this new technology as it is perfect for our audience, which is comprised of upscale young adults who are early adopters of new technology," said Petrick. "The cinematic scope of our programs lends itself to this vibrant format, and we look forward to expanding high definition delivery in the future."

"We're very pleased to begin broadcasting top quality WB Network programming in HDTV," said Mullen. "We have made a significant investment in digital broadcast technology, and we think it will mean a wonderful viewing experience for an increasing number of our viewers with HDTV receivers."

The announced HDTV line-up and premiere dates are:

Thursday, September 12: Family Affair, starring Tim Curry as Mr. French.
Monday, September 16: Everwood, starring Treat Williams.
Friday, September 20: Reba, starring Reba McEntire.
Tuesday, September 24: Smallville, starring Tom Welling.

Smallville and Everwood will air twice a week this fall. The Sunday telecasts of these programs will also be made available in high definition.

WB and Tribune Broadcasting are working together to comply with requests made this past spring by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Michael Powell, who asked broadcasters to commit to a minimum high definition schedule by January 1. The FCC also recently voted to require electronics manufacturers to begin including digital tuners in large format televisions sold in this country, beginning next year. The decision provoked protests from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), which complained that the requirement would add unnecessary costs to new TVs without providing consumers any added benefits.

Tribune Broadcasting owns and operates 24 major-market television stations, including national super-station WGN-TV, and reaches more than 80% of US television households, according to the announcement. The Tribune group also has a 22% investment stake in the WB Television Network, operates Chicago's WGN-AM, and owns the Chicago Cubs baseball team.