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Spotlight: DirecTV Wants Definition In Its Lineup

By | June 9, 2003

      New high definition television (HDTV) programming will be launched July 1 by El Segundo, Calif.-based satellite TV operator DirecTV, a unit of Hughes Electronics [NYSE: GMH].

      The programming, priced at $10.99 a month, will feature ESPN HD, Discovery HD Theater, HDNet and HDNet Movies. DirecTV, the largest U.S. satellite TV service provider, also will continue to offer its customers special event broadcasts in HDTV that include coverage of the Masters golf tournament and professional basketball games.

      “DirecTV has been a passionate proponent of HDTV since it launched the first coast-to-coast HD-feed more than four years ago,” said Stephanie Campbell, DirecTV’s senior vice president of programming. Customers of DirecTV want additional HDTV programming, she added.

      DirecTV currently offers four HDTV channels – HBO, Showtime, HDNet and a pay-per-view movie channel – along with special events in HDTV on other channels.

      ESPN HD is a 24-hour high-definition simulcast service of ESPN programming that features news and games from Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League and the National Hockey League.

      Rival satellite TV service EchoStar Communications [Nasdaq: DISH] offers five channels: HBO, Showtime, CBS and pay-per-view movie channel and the Discovery Theatre, said Marc Lumpkin, a company spokesman. EchoStar will offer HDNet programming later this year, but the pricing for the package has not been announced.

      –Paul Dykewicz

      (Bob Marsocci, DirecTV, 310/726-4656; Chuck Hewitt, Charles C. Hewitt & Associates, 410/544-4108)

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