Amy Bowers TV Talk 
"Brave New Year"

One evening in the foggy past, I sat in the assistant news director's office at WBZ, watching our show with a couple of other news photographers. The assistant news director watched carefully for the visual cues that signaled the identity of our program. "Mike flag," "lower third," "tease," were his comments. The next report included some very provocative journalism. "What did you think of that piece, Marty?" asked the cameraman. "I wasn't watching for content," was the assistant news director's reply. 

It's 1999, the last year before the celestial odometer clicks over, completing the year, the decade, the century, and the millennium. For many, '99 will be a year of transition, and Y2K shakedowns, as we adapt our technology and our skills to the next era. Digital television has been mandated, stations and production houses will comply. 

In the next few years, all broadcasters will transmit high definition signals. There will be at least two distinct formats--1080i for CBS and NBC transmissions, and 720p for ABC and Fox--and two aspect ratios,  4:3 and 16:9. 

Program executives and engineering staffs will direct their attention to getting the product out via transmitter, cable, direct broadcast, and the Web. Programmers will work hard to create visual styles and audio cues to connect the viewer to their shows. 

"Mini-open, live tease, cg, key," the news directors will comment. 

While we scramble to adapt to the changing technology, who will be "watching for content"? 

If you are a journalist, be sure to mind the store in '99--tell good, accurate stories, and watch for content. 

Wishing all of you a prosperous and productive 1999, and a special thank you to all the NABET members who took the time to reply to the "lockout" column. 


For more information on the labor dispute, check out the NABET website at 

Amy Bowers

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