Aspect Ratio

By Tom McNicholl

WKTV is now transmitting AFD flags as part of our HD signal on over-the-air channel 2.1. These flags embedded in the digital stream are used to control the aspect ratio on your converter box and on downconverters used by cable companies. Program and commercial providers can insert a flag for letterbox or centercut, depending on what they want viewers with older 4x3 TV's to see. For example, Saturday Night Live is created to be viewed in letterbox format. If you've been seeing graphics and actors cut off on the sides of the screen, it's because you've been watching in a zoom mode which cuts off the sides of the picture. If your converter box has the ability to accept AFD flags and is set in that mode, you will now see Saturday Night Live (and other NBC programming) with a black bar at the top and bottom of the screen but full content left to right. Not all converter boxes have this feature. You will need to look in the menu for picture, picture size or aspect ratio, and see if there is a setting for "Auto" or "Set by Program." Set this for channel 2.1 only. This does not pertain to channel 2.2 which is SD only and will always be in a 4x3 aspect ratio. If you're seeing black all around your picture on channel 2.2, you will need to set your converter box to zoom mode for that channel.

Our analog feed to Time Warner is fed from a downconverter at WKTV which is controlled by AFD flags, so it switches the picture size based on the flag being sent by NBC. When we're not in NBC programming, we are always feeding 4x3 standard definition and we are inserting a flag to forcre 4x3. If you have any questions about this, email

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