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This paper proposes a novel method for the assessment of picture quality, called triple stimulus continuous evaluation scale (TSCES), to allow the direct comparison of different HDTV formats. The method uses an upper picture quality anchor and a lower picture quality anchor with defined impairments. The HDTV format under test is evaluated in a subjective comparison with the upper and lower anchors. The method utilizes three displays in a particular vertical arrangement. In an initial series of tests with the novel method, the HDTV formats 1080p/50,1080i/25, and 720p/50 were compared at various bit-rates and with seven different content types on three identical 1920 times 1080 pixel displays. It was found that the new method provided stable and consistent results. The method was tested with 1080p/50,1080i/25, and 720p/50 HDTV images that had been coded with H.264/AVC High profile. The result of the assessment was that the progressive HDTV formats found higher appreciation by the assessors than the interlaced HDTV format. A system chain proposal is given for future media production and delivery to take advantage of this outcome. Recommendations for future research conclude the paper.