HDTV availability via cable continues to grow

HDTV service is available to cable customers in 18 of the top 20 DMAs and 78 of the top 100 DMAs as of June 1, according to information released by the NCTA (National Cable & Telecommunications Association).

Additionally, 34 markets below the top 100 are serving customers with HDTV program offerings, which means that 112 of the 210 DMAs are served by at least one cable system offering HDTV.

Released in conjunction with the industries 52nd annual National Trade Show, the NCTA’s figures also showed that cable operators are carrying 190 different broadcast stations that offer a digital TV signal.

According to Robert Sachs, president and CEO of the trade group, the cable industry has spent $75 billion since 1996 on upgrading infrastructure to support broadband service offerings, such as digital cable, high-speed Internet, local telephone, video on demand and HDTV.

Broadcasters have long regarded the cable industry as gatekeepers who wield tremendous power over consumer acceptance of digital television and HDTV because between 70 percent and 80 percent of U.S. TV households receive their television via cable. (See related story in this issue.)

Sachs pointed out that HDTV programming is now available via cable on HBO, Showtime, Discovery HD Theater, ESPN HD, InDemand, Madison Square Garden Network, Comcast Sports New and HDnet. A&E Networks, Bravo and Cinemax also will begin offering high definition programming this year.

For more information visit www.ncta.com.

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