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Direct TV Readies Local Collection Facilities

DirecTV has renewed its contract with National TeleConsultants (NTC) to design and build an additional 48 local collection facilities. The satellite provider is preparing to significantly expand the number of markets where it will offer local broadcast channels. This renewed contract follows a previous contract completed last year when NTC planned, designed, fabricated, and installed similar systems to provide local channel services in more than 50 U.S. television markets.

Thomson will supply a significant quantity of ViBE product line encoders and signal management equipment for the new local collection facilities. DirecTV's two new remote uplink facilities being built in Oakdale, MN and Winchester, VA, will rely on BBC Technology's Colledia Control monitoring software for remote management. The Oakdale and Winchester facilities will expand DirecTV's local channel distribution from 61 U.S. cities to more than 100 by the end of the year. The project is due for completion by the end of 2003. The two new uplink facilities will be an extension of DirecTV's existing uplink infrastructure, currently co-located at broadcast facilities in Castle Rock, CO and Los Angeles, CA. The two new facilities will be managed remotely from the Castle Rock broadcast facility.

DirecTV currently offers local broadcast channels in 52 designated market areas. By launching the DirecTV 7S spot beam satellite later this year, and by using advanced digital compression technology, DirecTV will be able to provide local broadcast channel service in approximately 100 markets by year-end, representing roughly 84% of U.S. television households. As with all existing local channel markets, DirecTV will deliver all local broadcast channels in the new markets to a single, small satellite dish.

The local collection facilities receive either off-air or direct feeds of television stations in the designated markets, and condition and digitally encode the signals for transmission to DirecTV uplink facilities. DirecTV uses spot beam satellite technology to transmit the local station programming back to individual markets, providing DirecTV viewers the ability to receive their local stations without the need for either an extra outdoor antenna or cable television services.