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CBS Taps Sony for HDTV News

CBS will be purchasing Sony’s new XDCAM HD optical-disk cameras and recorders for news acquisition at its 17 owned-and-operated stations, the station said on Wednesday.

In March, WBZ Boston and WBBM Chicago will be the first two stations to get the XDCAM HD gear, said CBS VP of Advanced Technology Bob Seidel at a New York press conference that detailed the new Sony format.

XDCAM HD, which begins shipping in March, offers high-def camcorders ranging from $16,800 to $25,800 and optical “decks” starting at $9,500, all of which handle video as files, afford nonlinear access to clips, and can generate standard- or high-definition outputs.

Whether the CBS stations will begin broadcasting HD newscasts remains to be seen, with CBS stations and other broadcasters waiting for new digital microwave gear to be deployed by Nextel as part of a spectrum deal with the FCC.

CBS stations in Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia are also in the midst of overhauling their facilities, and won’t launch HD news until those rebuilds are completed.

Pending the receipt of the new microwave gear, however, WBZ Boston “could go right to HD” this spring, says Seidel. He adds that the XDCAM HD purchase is consistent with CBS’ policy of buying new gear that can support both standard- and high-def pictures, such as dual-mode studio camera and switchers, and points out that the new Sony HD gear is cheaper than some SD equipment on the market.