I'm in New Castle County, DE so my local PBS channel is WHYY broadcasting over channel 12. Prior to getting FIOS in my neighborhood I subscribed to Comcast. Knowing FIOS was coming my wife and I bought a Samsung 50" HDTV thinking we'd just get a bigger 4:3 picture. To our surprise we discovered our Comcast service was also pumping in QAM signals that gave us real HD on a number of channels all designated with dot something (12.3, 17.9, etc.)
We then discovered our local PBS channel was delivering two three HD channels beyond their SD signal. 12.1 was a repeat of the SD signal but in HD, 12.2 was the arts channel, and 12.3 was the wider horizons channel. These two extra channels gave us access to concerts and travel programs that filled our 50" screen and delivered 5.1 stereo through our surround sound amp.
When we changed over to FIOS last Feb we no longer seem to have access to QAM signals and only get when our settop box sends through the HDMI connection. All the dot something channels seem to still be there but now they are remapped by Verizon to numbers without the dot something. Curiously the "extra" PBS channels arts and wider horizons are in the FIOS lineup but are not designated as HD channels. As a result these channels are presented as letterboxed 4:3 images - a real disappointment.
My wife and I are supporting members of WHYY and have contacted them as to why these two channels show up on FIOS as non HD. Their response was that this was an issue that would be corrected after the digital changeover. Well, that has happened but there's been no change in these channels.
I am not sure who I should be addressing about this issue so I am contacting both FIOS and WHYY to see what is happening. It would be great to hear from a Verizon rep who could comment on this issue.
I'm not in your area so I dont know about the differences between the .2 .3 channels. but I went to the channel line up for northern DE and it says that the WHYY HD broadcast is on channel 515. channel 12 will be the SD broadcast in the 4:3 format but channel 515 should give you the 16:9 (assuming the show is being broadcast in HD)
This is also assuming that you have a HD Verizon STB
Thanks for responding and for checking out the listing on the WHYY channels. I do have the HD settop box and subscribe the HD extreme service but what I see when I go to channel 515 is a 4:3 image letterboxed. I'm connected with an HDMI cable so my TV does not support any kind of image zoom except "wide fit" that stretches out the images horizontally making everyone look short and fat - not what I'd like to see on an HDTV.
OK, you caught my interest enough to look at WHYY HD (channel 512 from VHO8) since I thought I had seen programming in HD in the past. I am watching the Nightly Business Report (7:00 PM) now and it is in 16:9 HD. The promos for NOVA are also running in 16:9. My guess is that what you are seeing is shows that are only shot in 4:3 letterbox which would come across on the HD channel with pillars (left and right) and bars (top and bottom). Remember, not all shows are shot in HD and probably a lot of PBS shows are much later to the HD game due to non-commercial funding.
Just my quick observation.
Thank you for cross checking this situation. It's good to know you are seeing 16:9. If you are seeing this then I should be also. Quite possibly I have had the bad luck of always tuning in to these channels during times when non HD material was being broadcast. Guess I'll need to watch more frequently.