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DirecTV Says HD Plans not Hindered by Problem

DirecTV suffered what it says is a minor technical glitch in its ambitious plans to ramp up no fewer than 100 HD channels, but the DBS firm said it does not expect to substantially alter its plans. One of its new satellites launched a couple of months ago (DirecTV 10) was recently positioned in geosynchronous orbit and now undergoing routine testing.

According to DirecTV, the satellite’s transponder payload includes “spot-beam capacity” necessary for future HD services. But during tests, “It appears that a portion of the anticipated spot-beam capability may not be fully available,” the company said. “The investigation to determine the cause of the reduced capability and potential means to mitigate its effect is ongoing. However, we currently believe our planned expansion of HD local programming as previously announced will not be materially affected.”

Also, the planned launch of a second satellite (DirecTV 11) no later than early 2008 should not be affected by the spot-beam issue. DirecTV, headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., said it’s currently offering local HD broadcast channels in 60 U.S. cities.

(Read more about DirecTV’s HD initiative in the Sept. 19 edition of TV Technology.)