HDTV Blackouts of ESPN HD in ACC Markets
Raycom Sports and Jefferson Pilot Sports are regrettably unable to provide our viewers with games in HDTV for the 2006 ACC Basketball Tournament (March 9-12). The technology for high definition distribution of syndicated (or non-network) telecasts is not yet to the point where all of our local TV stations can pull down a HD feed, process the signal and then successfully rebroadcast it out to their local viewers. At this time, there is unfortunately no industry standard that is compatible across all television stations for this type of distribution.
Most of the local TV stations on the R/JP network are all currently set-up to handle only their own network's HD feeds (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, WB, UPN, etc.) and not one being delivered to them from an outside source or third party. In fact, there are some networks that do not allow their affiliates to even use network-owned HD transmission equipment for anything other than programming supplied by the network. Because we utilize different affiliates up and down the East Coast, we cannot produce one HD feed that these stations could universally process and properly rebroadcast. This is the same reason that the current top syndicated shows such as Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, the morning & afternoon talk shows and the off-network sitcoms are not yet distributed in an HD format.
Likewise, R/JP is contractually obligated to blackout ESPN in all markets where a local TV station is televising a game in order to protect the local stations that have the broadcast rights to these games. Formats do not apply to television rights (a high definition feed displays the same content as a standard definition feed (the game itself) except for the audio and video quality differences). We must do this in order to protect the R/JP stations that carry the other 30-plus games we offer throughout the regular season. If we did not implement this blackout, then the result would ultimately mean less ACC basketball for our fans.
Raycom Sports & Jefferson Pilot Sports are working with our stations to try and remedy this situation for future ACC Tournaments. We believe in the HD format and hope to deliver it soon to our loyal viewers across the ACC footprint. Thank you for your patience and understanding in this matter.
Raycom Sports & Jefferson Pilot Sports