Why is tcm in both sd and hd on demand coming in with a block box around the picture?! In 2016 this happened- and turned out tcm had been sending to comcast a error- hd format for sd option. I think its same issue- Ive sent messages to tcm online to no avail. Anyone else noticee this? What else to do?
UPDATE-TCM replied via my message to them via facebook, they say they are forwarding this issue to their team and to also alert comcast as well. Idk if they will really fwd the issue or not but that what the message states. hmmm
The one thing I noticed is that you are still using an old analog television. There is no longer any legal requirement from FCC for any business to supply a analog television signal. All those (4:3) channels have converted to "digital SD 4:3" video.
How long have you been using your current cable-adapter from Comcast? Maybe your local service center may have a better cable-box for your situation. Otherwise; new digital televisions can be purchased for less than $100.
Hi-I dm'd tcm on their facebook page. tcm claims to be forwarding my complaint and also said to contact comcast to fix this. And yes-I will need a new tv one day when finances permit!
Some movies are presented this way and some are not...
When you're watching TCM, a good deal of the old black-and-white movies were made square'ish (4:3), which fits your old television set, but others started to explore Cinerama and other wide-screen formats, which means they were filmed widescreen.
So when you play a movie made for widescreen on a standard-def TV (same as when you play SD on a widescreen TV), there are some tricks to make the picture play differently but they all change the image. You can stretch the image, which looks terrible. You can crop the image and just show the center of the picture or "pan-and-scan" to move the focus around within the viewing area, which will fill up the screen but will omit a lot of what was photographed on the sides and will also make close-ups often way too close (since there's no longer any scenery on the left and right to balance out the close-up.) Or they can introduce letterbox to black out areas that have no picture once it's squeezed down to the size of your TV, which will show the whole filmed picture but will look smaller on your TV.
Everything's a compromise, and it will depend on the movie and the job that the broadcaster does on the footage whether you notice their choice or not. Sometimes you don't even notice the difference, but if you're sensitive to the black bars of letterboxing or the grainy, claustrophobic view of cropping, you'll see it more than most people.
(*Your TV is on the right; this is an example picture and not a working model)
As more and more TVs use widescreen (actually, every single TV sold today and for about the past decade is widescreen), broadcasters have switched over to favoring widescreen and letterboxing the SD version, rather than the other way around. Also, movie studios are re-recording the video masters of their movies, and so more movies are captured without the square image that they used to conform to.
TCM probably still does a good job with its SD because they still have an active community with older TVs, but sometimes they'll have to letterbox because of circumstances. You can ask for the network to be wary of its SD broadcast, but when say a classic western comes on, they will likely squeeze it down into a letterbox rather than chop it off on the sides and lose all those grand vistas in these classic movies.
Unless they can make TVs that somehow change their shape, letterboxing or cropping will always be an issue in showing material not made for that TV.
I've noticed a change, too, on my flat screen tv. The films, when broadcast on TCM during the week, fill the screen or are letterboxed with bands on the upper and lower edges. But when the film is offered through Xfinity's On Demand, all of the films are surrounded by black bars on all edges. Even films shown in letterbox format when broadcast by the network are surrounded by black bars when shown through On Demand.
When I change my picture size from a 4:3 ratio to a 16:9 ratio, it only slightly increases the size of the film's image and the same black bars on all sides of a 4:3 image still surround the 16:9 image. Until the last few months, TCM's films had the same format when initially shown during the week and then via On Demand. That's not what's happening now, unfortunately.