Eight Reasons So Many HD Channels Suck AssS

Sound & Vision just ran a cool expose on HD cable channels. How can so many good channels be stuck in SD land—I'm looking at you F/X, Comedy Central and Sci-Fi Channel—while new lame HD channels like CNN and QVC cut to the front of the line? And what about those so-called HD channels, like TNT and TBS, that half the time (or more often than that) play stretched upconverted Law & Order reruns? Dubbing the situation "complicated," S&V says there isn't one answer, but eight slimy, frustrating, unfair reasons:

1. Timing: TBS HD launched with MLB playoffs; CNN HD is covering politics in a year when politics isn't BORING.

2. Pretty Picture: Sports, movies and nature top the list of demanded HD. Apparently Reno 911 isn't even near the top.

3. New Content: Converting old stuff costs $$$$$, whereas shooting in HD from the get go is cheaper and cheaper everyday, hence QVC's all-HD all-the-time pitch.

4. Money: You knew this would come up. QVC pays carriers to put their channel up. Who knows what other deals are going down?

5. Visual Upgrades: Even if the video itself isn't HD, some channels like CNBC HD (seriously?) use graphics and stuff in HD.

6. Promises, Promises: According to a source at Comcast, networks who share big 'n' nebulous HD plans for the future can squeeze by with crap programming at launch. (Hey Comcast, they also took the word "Gullible" out of the dictionary.)

7. Simulcasting: Apparently it's cheaper for a channel to broadcast stuff in HD and SD at the same time, because they save on marketing and can tell everyone to watch at the same time, whereas channels that only broadcast in HD are underpromoted.

8. Smoke-Filled Rooms: All of this comes down to deals, handshakes between suits from the carriers and suits from the content owners. (Occasionally, they have to actually shake their own hands!) Whatever variety of above incentives are offered, a deal's a deal. [Sound & Vision]