DirecTV to Offer Local HD in Nearly 40 Markets

DirecTV will begin providing HD channels from local broadcasters in up to 40 markets within the next 6-8 months, according to published reports from the DBS firm's annual meeting last week. DirecTV's Spaceway F1 satellite was successfully launched in April, and a second bird, Spaceway F2, is scheduled to be launched into space this month.

Both Ka-band satellites--together with DirecTV 11 and 12 (set to launch in 2006)--are expected to give the DBSer enough capacity for up to1,500 local HD channels, as well as 150 national channels. DirecTV has been advertising its upcoming local HD plans on national broadcast television for several months.

Reportedly, a key part of the HD strategy will be a new receiver/DVR scheduled to ship in the fall, with an MPEG-4 chip and priced under $300. The receiver reportedly will feature DirecTV's internally developed proprietary software.