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So why do you sometimes get black bars on each side of the picture?

Footage produced in 4:3 and presented on a widescreen TV has black bars at the sides to fill the screen.

Freeview widescreen with black bars

To see the correct picture size and shape there are two things you need to do:

  1. tell your set top box or PVR that it's attached to a 16:9 TV (look in the digital receiver set-up menu), and
  2. set the TV 'aspect ratio' with your TV remote to 16:9 (sometimes called widescreen or simply, wide mode).
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