WRAL-HD becomes the nation’s first experimental high definition television station

WRAL-HD becomes the nation’s first experimental high definition television station

WRAL-HD became the nation’s first experimental high definition television (HDTV) station to go on-the-air in July. In making the announcement during a news conference, Jim Goodmon said HDTV is critical to the future of free over-the-air television. “Broadcasters,” he said, “must move forward to effectively compete with other digital services.”


Tom Allen, John Greene, Tom Beauchamp, Jim Goodmon, and Fred Barber gather to launch the new WRAL-HD station.

The station began the transmission of full-power digital test signals on July 23, 1996, under authorization granted by the FCC. The new station’s effective radiated power is 100 kilowatts with the antenna at 1750 feet. Full operation will follow a period of testing the Grand Alliance HDTV system as recommended to the FCC by the Advisory Committee on Advanced Television Service and as documented by the Advanced Television Systems Committee. Signal testing will continue until Spring of 1997 when actual broadcasts of regularly-scheduled programming will begin. Television sets are expected to hit the consumer market in 1997.


Bob Siedel, CBS, John Greene, CBC, and Robert Weirather, Harris Corporation, prepare to cut the ribbon during the first WRAL-HD TV reception.

Plans call for WRAL-HD to carry programming from the soon-to-be-developed national HDTV satellite digital feed from the Public Broadcasting Service. In addition, programming from the CBS Television Network will be a part of the schedule.

WRAL-TV was the first in the nation to file and receive from the FCC an experimental license to operate an HDTV station. Goodmon praised the engineering and technical staffs at CBS who are working as consultants on the project. “To be broadcasting five weeks after the license was granted is a tribute to the hard work and cooperation of CBS, the Harris Corporation, Andrew and Zenith,” he said. “This could not have been done without supreme effort from all the parties involved.” The system is driven by a new Harris HDTV Sigma transmitter through a special Andrew antenna.

Wilber Brann, Corporate Engineer, prepares WRAL-HD for the first transmission. Al Robinson, WRAL- TV Operations, tapes a children’s special in the new HDTV format.

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