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Fox Does Not Deserve the World Series
By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (October 28, 2010) -- I realize that Fox outbid its rivals for the rights to broadcast the World Series (and the NL Championship Series). But the network's continued sloppy HD coverage of the games compels me to say that it doesn't deserve to be the sole broadcaster of such a prestigious event.

Last week, I noted that Fox's HD picture during the NL series was so soft and grainy that it didn't look like real high-def. I even questioned whether the picture was HD at all, but I have been assured by industry sources that it was. They said that the problem appeared to be at the source -- meaning Fox's transmission to its local affiliates apparently lacked sufficient quality control.

My observations about the sub-par HD picture was echoed in Internet message boards such as the well-respected AV Forum. Fox viewers could not understand why the picture was so soft, particularly during the games broadcast from San Francisco. (In contrast, TBS' HD coverage of the AL Championship Series was eye-popping; sensational.)

Despite the poor showing, I was hopeful that last night's coverage of game one of the World Series would be different.

It wasn't.

The picture again lacked the pop and crispness that we have come to expect (and love) from high-def. During close-ups of the players, there was little detail in their faces and the shots of the field action were even more watery.

Usually during a HD baseball broadcast, the picture is so clear that you can see the stitches of a baseball as it sails across the diamond; you can read the signature of a player on his baseball bat; why you can even clearly detect the skin texture of the faces of the fans in their seats.

But the Fox HD picture last night often made you wonder why people got so excited about high-def. I could almost hear HD doubters saying, 'What's the big deal? Why did I buy this expensive TV? For this?"

FYI, I watched last night's game on DIRECTV and Comcast on my local Washington, D.C. affiliate, WTTG-TV. But before you suggest that my local station was having a problem, again look to the
message board of the AV Forum. The site was littered with complaints from Giants/Rangers viewers who were watching the game on different stations across the nation.

(One more note on this point: MLB Network aired a pre-game show from Pacific Bell Park, the site of the game in San Francisco, and the picture was beautiful. Crisp, sharp, vivid. Everything you hope for in HD.)

The bottom line is that Fox is screwing up one of the great traditions of sport. By serving up a sub-par picture, it's taking some of the fun out of watching a great game.

I realize again that Fox paid its money to carry the games. But in the future, I would hope that Major League Baseball and other professional leagues would insist on some quality control being part of the contract. The poor picture does not reflect well on them, either.

So until Fox commits the resources to improve the picture, I must say that the network doesn't deserve
to carry the World Series or any other major sporting event.

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Phillip Swann is president and publisher of TVPredictions.com. He has been quoted in dozens of publications and broadcast outlets, including CNN, Fox News, Inside Edition, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Financial Times, The Associated Press and The Hollywood Reporter. He can be reached at swann@tvpredictions.com or at 703-505-3064.

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