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Hi-def politicians

Japanese broadcaster NHK has lined up 30 U.S. digital stations to carry its high-definition coverage of the major political conventions this summer.

NHK, which is producing a 1080-line interlace HDTV pool feed, will originate 21 hours of uninterrupted, gavel-to-gavel coverage from the Republican convention in Philadelphia July 31-Aug. 3, according to Producer Lisa Lane. Airtimes are 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and 7 p.m.-11 p.m. (ET) on July 31, 7-11 p.m. the next three nights. The HDTV content will also be repurposed to create widescreen video for NHK's Web site, she says.

The broadcaster is bringing a high-definition production van in from Tokyo for the task and will have five camera positions in Philadelphia.

WRC-DT, the NBC owned-and-operated digital station in Washington, will be carrying the NHK feeds, which will be the only commercial television broadcast of the conventions in its market. The station will provide no commentary and limited commercial interruptions.

WRC-DT President and General Manager Linda Sullivan says the agreement was easy since the station's director of operations and engineering, Bruce Miller, had worked extensively with NHK while running the Model HDTV Station in Washington. Sullivan says she is looking forward to delivering the coverage to the roughly 1,200 DTV viewers in the market.

Production of the Democratic convention in Los Angeles Aug. 14-17 will be less costly than the Republican gathering, says NHK's Lane, because the convention site, the Staples Center, is already wired for HDTV. NHK is working with Slingshot Networks to procure production gear for the broadcast, which will run 2 p.m.-8 p.m. (PT) on Aug. 14-16, 2 p.m.-9 p.m. on Aug. 17.