Advertisers advised to prepare for widescreen

ITV is warning advertisers that campaigns must soon be shot to fit widescreen digital TVs – or they risk having text cut.

Advertisements and programmes are made for screens with a width to height ratio of four by three.

Viewers with widescreen TVs have an option on their TVs of stretching the image to fit (and will have this option on set-top boxes for digital broadcasts) – but the picture is distorted.

ITV wants to avoid this distortion and from November, when it starts broadcasting in both analogue and digital formats, wants advertisers to start filming ads so that all the vital words and action are contained within a safe area, which will be set at the compromise ratio of 14 by nine which does not need to be stretched to fit widescreen. Campaigns can continue to be made in analogue format.

Unless text, such as a health warning, is kept within this area, there is a risk that it will be lost from view at the edges of the screen.

ITV is also preparing to set a date in conjunction with the advertising industry, dubbed C-Day for Commercial Day, as a deadline for advertisers to create campaigns in a digital format and in the ultimate 16 by nine widescreen ratio.

Andy Richardson, director of advertising presentation at ITV sales house TSMS and a member of the presentation digital implem-entation group, says: “We want to make this issue known to the industry.”

C-Day will be set according to the take-up of widescreen TVs and digital set-top boxes, and is not likely to be before November 1999.

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