High Definition Televsion (HDTV) offers viewers excellent picture quality to view on their televisions. Most networks have some of their television shows in HD, while a few channels have emerged in recent years which show all their programming in HD. In developing content for HDTV channels, programs about history are being made, including medieval history, which allows for impressive footage of historical sites and art to be shown.
To learn more about HDTV, we spoke with John Panikkar, a representative of High Fidelity HDTV, Canada’s leading HD broadcaster. Since 2006, they have been broadcasting four channels – Oasis HD, Treasure HD, Equator HD and Rush HD – which show a wide varierty of programs related to nature, art, history, outdoor sports and more. All of these channels are shown in Canada, which has about five million homes with a HD television, and they hope to begin airing some of these channels in other countries within the next few months.
We asked John Panikkar a few questions:
1. Your entire program schedule features footage shot in high definition. Why did you choose this route, whereas most television channels still have much over their programming in a lesser quality format?
Why HD? Simply put, because it is the best format in which to showcase the fabulous, Canadian-premiere programming that we are offering to Canadian viewers. Almost 100% of our programs have not been seen in Canada before. That is because we commission and acquire the best programming suitable to the themes of our four channels, and present that to viewers in a format that allows their HD television sets to really come to life in terms of picture and home theatre sound. My co-founding partner Ken Murphy and I were committed HD-ophiles back in the mid 1990s well before HD became mainstream. It really is a case of once you have HD, you can’t go back to SD.
2. On at least three of your channels you have programs that deal with history, including medieval history. Could you talk about them and why they were good additions to your programming schedule?
History programs in general are well-covered by the likes of History Channel in Canada and others. Most of the programming that could be called “historical”, and in particular those which deal with the medieval period, are found on our Equator HD channel. This is a channel for people who are curious about how other people live, or lived. When we commission or acquire programming for Equator HD, we ask ourselves: does it illuminate the question “how do you live” or “how did you live”? If the answer is yes, we know it’s a fit for Equator HD. The medieval period is of course one of the most interesting and rich periods of human history, and so programming based on how people lived their lives at that time, whether those individuals, families or groups were highborn or lowly, is fascinating.
3. Finally, I was wondering what advice you might have for people who might be interested in creating programming in HD that would be medieval-related? What would be appealing for your channels in terms of content?
Any programming created for Equator, or for that matter Rush or Treasure (less so for Oasis, which is a nature and natural history channel) should tell engaging and interesting “people stories” above all. Everyone likes a good story about others, and everyone has their own story to tell about themselves. We like programming that illuminates culture, icons present or past, and interrelationships that tell stories of the human condition.
We thank John Panikkar for answering our questions.
Return to The Middle Ages in HD section