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DirecTV Launches Second HD Bird

DirecTV (opens in new tab) successfully launched its Spaceway F2 satellite in mid-November, as planned. The bird is earmarked as one to be used in the company's ambitious plans to carry virtually all local digital broadcast stations in all-size markets, starting with major regions in December.

Its Spaceway F1 satellite is already in orbit and when combined with the F2, the DBS company said it would reach the capacity to begin offering local HD signals in nearly 40 major markets (or about 60 percent of all U.S. dwellings) by the end of Q1 2006.

Detroit is the first of about a dozen markets where DirecTV will deliver local HD programming in coming weeks. Other early markets include: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Fla. and Washington, D.C. Together, the twin Spaceway birds can offer up to 500 local HD channels. DirecTV plans to launch two more dedicated satellites by 2007.