HDTV: One in Four Homes Have Made the Switch

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A new study shows that 25 percent of American households have made the switch to high-definition television. Viewers still may not understand the news they see on their TV, but at least the pictures are better than ever.

(Soundbite of NBC broadcast)

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Unidentified Man #1: The following program is brought to you in living color on NBC.


Wow, you knew that was going to be an event. That's how NBC introduced shows back in 1957 during the advent of color TV. Now 50 years later the big thing is high-def, isn't it, high-definition TV. Resident humorist Brian Unger has been watching and wondering exactly what we get with all this new definition. Here's the Unger Report.

BRIAN UNGER: More than a quarter of U.S. television households have made the switch to high-def TV. That means more people are watching news they can't understand more vividly but with less clarity than ever before. That's high-def: better vision without all the lucidity.

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UNGER: Just look what's on: war, scandal and random acts of violence, stunning images with more definition of content less defined. Take the dark politics and dimly lit halls of government. They've never looked so bright and radiant as they do in high-def.

Mr. ALBERTO GONZALES (U.S. Attorney General): Sir, I don't recall - Senator, I don't recall - I do not recall - I don't recall remembering. I can only testify as to what I recall. Senator, I don't recall - I don't recall. I firmly believe that nothing improper occurred.

UNGER: You could watch images of the attorney general of the United States say I don't recall as much as 70 times on a regular old color TV, but on high-def you'll remember the forgetful with 1,080 horizontal lines of clarity. That's a big sharp picture of one man's fuzzy memory.

All that lack of detail can be seen precisely with a resolution so crisp and clear you have to see the obfuscation to believe it. Nothing emits such radiant light of people shedding no light like high-def.

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UNGER: On 35 million high-def sets, Americans are watching the bigger picture, but are they getting it? Appearing in striking, rich, 16-by-nine scale, Alec Baldwin yelling at his daughter and chilling news images while the pesky little issues behind them, the ones truly affecting our democracy - war, guns, religion, the environment - appear more hazy and distant than ever.

In high-def, it's like you could almost reach out and touch what you're not getting in touch with. So if you're stuck in a low-def TV world of conversation killers, like why don't we just let anyone buy a gun, and why is the National Guard serving in Iraq, or hey, is there a God, focus on the rainbow, not the threatening clouds behind it, by making the switch to high-def. There's no better way to get the news you're not seeing.

And that is today's Unger Report. I'm Brian Unger.

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