You want publicity? OK. Here you go.

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Boston Catholic Television, the little diocesan-owned cable service here, has had viewers outside of Massachusetts for a long time: it was carried on cable systems in neighboring states and as far away as Montreal for years. It lived off donations from the "shut-ins" who were its main viewers, and its production values were on par with a good public-access show.

Now they want to expand their audience and present themselves nationally in a more serious way. They've dropped the "Boston" from their title and are billing themselves as simply "Catholic TV". The sets are looking better, and the director, Fr. Robert Reed, shows a bit of humor in his presentation. They're feeding the service to more cable systems and streaming their video over the net.

Well, good enough: there's certainly room out there in the US media world for another Catholic cable service in addition to EWTN.

Now they've hired a publicist to promote their website to bloggers.

Ahem. This screenshot shows what video on the site looks like:


For some reason, they think nobody will notice or mind that the video they're streaming is being stretched horizontally by 33% to fill the display box. I mean, Fr. Hesburgh -- the mover and shaker who made Notre Dame what it is today (sigh) -- is no glamour plate, but he's not as unsightly as they're making him in that image. No, really.

The technical reason for this is that standard TV images form a rectangle with a 4-to-3 ratio of width to length. HDTV video has a wider 16-to-9 aspect ratio. CTV apparently wanted the fancy new wide format on their website, but their actual programming is in the standard format. To make it fit, they are, in Procrustean fashion, stretching the h*ll out of their video: making it 33% wider than it should be, and figuring that the viewers will just put up with it.

Great media savvy, guys. It really proves you're ready for the big time.

Mm, no. The correct way to convert 4x3 video into 16x9 video is to "letterbox" it. That is, you make it wider by adding empty space to the left and right of the image. Conversely, to convert 16x9 video into 4x3 format, you'd add empty space to the top and bottom of the image.

What is wrong with these people? The site has been like this since it debuted in October. Do the clergy in Boston think that they can make things better by issuing press releases instead of curing problems?

Hey, don't answer that!

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On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

Richard Chonak

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This page contains a single entry by Richard Chonak published on March 23, 2009 5:55 PM.

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