DIRECTV to offer CBS-HD programming

January 12, 2004

DIRECTV, the nation’s larger digital multichannel television service provider, announced its plans to offer CBS-HD programming. The HD fare will include the hit primetime shows CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Everybody Loves Raymond, as well as the Sunday, Feb. 1 broadcast of Super Bowl XXXVIII. A similar agreement with FOX is expected to be reached in the next several weeks.

The CBS-HD programming, from WCBS in New York and KCBS in Los Angeles, will be available to eligible DIRECTV customers in markets where CBS owns and operates stations, including Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Salt Lake City, Austin, Texas and Green Bay, Wis. Similarly, FOX programming is also expected to be offered to customers in FOX O&O markets.

Meanwhile, CBS broadcasts remain available on DIRECTV's rival DISH Network, as a lawsuit filed last week by EchoStar against Viacom in federal court in San Francisco was put on hold while contract negotiations continue for another week.

The suit alleges Viacom is trying to force EchoStar to buy Viacom-owned MTV and other cable channels at “unfair prices” in exchange for the right to carry 18 CBS-owned stations in 15 big-city markets.

The TV markets involved are New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Salt Lake City and Austin, Texas.

The dispute potentially affects 1.6 million customers and could deprive them of the Feb. 1 Super Bowl broadcast. The EchoStar-Viacom contract that had expired Dec. 31, 2003, has been extended again until Jan. 14.

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