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Can high definition and standard definition coexist?

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Most certainly, HD and SD formats can and will co-exist. We are in the very early stages of HD broadcasting despite it being developed over the last two decades. Only now is it becoming commercially viable. The move towards HD is driven by costs: Consumers are unwilling to pay high premiums for HD and broadcasters will not commit to HD broadcasting until they can see a return on the investment. Producing HD material increases production costs several times over. Better sets, make up, lighting and equipment are all required to make the best of HD content. Studio equipment typically has a life of 10 years or more so we can expect standard definition studios to be around another ten years from now. Broadcasters will be reluctant to refit studios before they reach the end of their natural life, so SD production will also be with us for another decade. Many specialist and low budget channels have no budget and indeed, no requirement to move to HD. Those minor channels will be moving to HD only when HD equipment costs are in line with SD equipment. That's a few years away. Although HD in the home is becoming more common, by no means every home will have HD in the foreseeable future. SD broadcasts will be required for SD homes for many years to come. In the UK, color television was rolled out by the early 1970s. It took 40 years before the old monochrome transmitters were finally turned off after that roll out. HD signals take 5 times the bandwidth of SD. As broadcasters struggle to find space on cable and on the transmission spectrum for new HD channels, SD will still be used to allow the wide range of channels that we expect. Finally, archived material is SD. It will always be SD. Although one day, it will be upconverted to HD for broadcast, this will not improve the quality of the material and there is no justification for HD broadcasts when a channel relies heavily on older archived material. All HD televsions are capable of displaying SD signals and there is no pressure on broadcasters to move to HD just for compatibility reasons. As a personal view, I do not believe that SD will become scarce for another decade. Perhaps, in 15 years, we will have moved almost fully to HD. As I write this in 2009, I will review this answer in 2019 and 2024 to see how close my prediction is to the reality of those future times.
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