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DirecTV to launch up to 50 new local channel markets in 2003

DirecTV will add 50 new local broadcast markets to its existing 51, once it launches the DirecTV 7S satellite later this year. The direct-to-home satellite provider said 10 of these new markets would be served by the end of June.

With the successful launch of the DirecTV 7S spot beam satellite in the fourth quarter, and using digital compression technology to conserve transponder space, the company will provide local broadcast channel service in 100 markets by year-end, representing roughly 84 percent of U.S. television households. As with all existing local channels, DirecTV will deliver all local broadcast channels in the new markets to a single, 18-inch satellite dish.

The first 10 of these new markets will launch throughout the first half of this year, beginning with Richmond, Va., on Jan. 16. The next nine markets are Colorado Springs, Colo.; Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; Roanoke, Va.; Green Bay, Wis.; Tucson, Ariz.; Shreveport, La.; Jackson, Miss.; Louisville, Ky. and Des Moines, Iowa.

To receive local channels from DirecTV, customers in most of these new markets will require the use of a Multi-Satellite System, which includes a single multi-satellite dish.

DirecTV, a division of Hughes Electronics, has more than 11 million customers. The FCC denied its proposed merger with Echostar’s DISH network last year.

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