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LG to Supply DirecTV STBs for Local HD Carriage

DirecTV has selected LG Electronics as its first supplier of HD set-top boxes based on LG's video compression technology, according to both firms. LG has begun producing STBs for use in the DBS company's MPEG-4 HD satellite broadcasts, according to the LG.

DirecTV plans to launch the "most dramatic expansion of programming in its history," the company said in a statement, when it begins offering local HD broadcast channels this fall in major U.S. markets. The launch of those local markets gets underway when DirecTV started HD broadcasts of ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates in Detroit in a few weeks. As a promotion, the DBS firm is offering its HD STB free, after a $200 mail-in rebate, according to published reports.

The new STBs are being distributed under the DirecTV brand name and feature the DBS service's program guide, security software, digital outputs (HDMI/HDCP) with simultaneous component/composite output, and a Linux operating system and USB port. The boxes are built around Broadcom's MPEG chipset and LG's fifth generation "VSB" chipset--both for MPEG4 HD and existing MPEG2 SD programming, as well as terrestrial ATSC HD-SD broadcasts.

Detroit is the first of about a dozen markets in which DirecTV will deliver local HD programming by early December. Other early markets earmarked for local HD carriage include: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles., New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Tampa Bay and Washington, D.C.