Broadcasters control high-definition format


POSTED: Wednesday, May 06, 2009

QUESTION: I have a 50-inch HDTV and subscribe to Oceanic's HD Entertainment Pack. How can a local station, OC16, broadcast local sports on a full 50-inch screen, but stations with major network affiliations cannot deliver a full 50-inch screen? Even the news and University of Hawaii sports are shown on a 40-inch screen in some cases.

ANSWER: It depends on whether the broadcaster has invested in high-definition equipment.

In the case of Oceanic Time Warner Cable's OC16, “;We use HD cameras and editing equipment that is HD,”; said Earl Ishihara, Oceanic's director of technical operations.

He pointed out that KHNL and its sister station, KFVE, have HD equipment in their news studio, “;therefore, their news is in HD.”; But that's not necessarily the case with their other programming, he said.

The other local television stations, meanwhile, “;have not yet expended moneys to upgrade their cameras and editing facilities to that of HD,”; Ishihara said.

The federal mandate that all broadcast channels convert from analog to digital TV by June 12 did not require stations to air programs produced and carried in high definition, he said.

Ishihara's not sure what the percentage of high-definition programming is, but said, “;Basically, you'll find that even major networks ... are aggressively expending capital to get more and more HD programming.”;

Q: Someone told me that disabled homeless people with service animals are not accepted in homeless shelters. Is that true?

A: Without knowing the specifics, it's “;hard to be absolute in an answer,”; said Francine Wai, executive director of the state Disabilities and Communications Access Board.

Homeless shelters are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act if they are transient lodging/social service agencies, she said.

If so, service animals must be accepted even if there is a no-pets policy, Wai said. She added that a homeless shelter might be able to limit the number of animals one person has but not the overall number of people with disabilities and animals.

However, there might be an issue if the animal is not a service animal or one not “;properly under control of its owner,”; she said.

“;Although the intent under the ADA was to not require an onerous burden on people with disabilities, lack of proof can lead to abuse by people who do not qualify,”; she said.

The Department of Justice, under the ADA, does not require documentation that an animal is a service animal. However, Wai said, the Department of Housing and Urban Development does allow asking for documentation under the Fair Housing Act.

A homeless shelter might be covered under both acts.

“;Fair Housing is broader than ADA, as it permits comfort or emotional support or therapy animals,”; Wai said. But the shelter may ask for documentation.

Kate Bepko, spokeswoman for the Institute for Human Services, said the shelter has not encountered a situation involving a service animal. A homeless person with a service animal would not be turned away, she said, and the IHS would work with the Hawaii Center for Independent Living to find accommodations.

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