08.21.2003 12:00 AM
DBS Subscribers Top 20 Million
Americans receiving their TV via satellite dish now number 20 million, according to statistics released by the industry's main trade association this week.

The figures illustrate the phenomenal growth of the direct broadcast satellite industry, introduced just nine years ago, according to the Satellite Broadcasting and Communication Association. The milestone was achieved in July when DirecTV announced a subscriber count of 11.56 million and EchoStar reported that it had 8.8 million subscribers.

"This significant achievement offers testament to the many individuals and companies within the industry that have worked hard to deliver quality and innovation into the homes of tens of millions of Americans," said Eddy Hartenstein, SBCA chairman and chairman and CEO of DirecTV.

The SBCA attributed the growth partly to the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act of 1999, which allowed satellite broadcasters to carry local network broadcast programming. Currently, Dish Network and DirecTV's local packages reach over 70 percent of the national television market, with plans to reach over 80 percent by the end of 2003.

DBS subscription levels are now on par with the number of digital cable subscribers, which also number 20 million, according to the latest statistics from the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.

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