Q&A: DirecTV Still ‘On Track’ for 100-HD Universe

Satellite firm DirecTV has been talking all year about ramping up an ambitious line-up of HD channels, with up to 100 outlets to be offered by year’s end. HD Notebook spoke recently with Robert Mercer, DirecTV’s chief spokesman, about where things now stand:

HD Notebook:What’s the latest on your HD push, and do you think you’ll meet all your goals by your deadlines?

Mercer: We are on track to launch a number of new HD channels…and we’ll have 70 here in October, and up to 100 by year’s end. Our newest satellite, DirecTV 11, will launch late this year [or] early next, and give us the capacity for a total of 150 national HD channels [later].”

[DirecTV’s October additions include, in alphabetical order: Bravo, Cartoon Network, Cinemax East and West, CNBC HD+, Food Network, Fox Business News, FX, HBO, Home & Garden Television, MGM HD, National Geographic Channel, Sci Fi Channel, Speed Channel, and USA Network.]

HD Notebook:So you’re saying you’re looking at ‘up to 100’ channels by year’s end. What type of compression scheme(s) will DirecTV be using for your various HD satellite feeds?

Mercer: We can’t discuss details on compression, other to note that we’re using MPEG4, as you know, and also we’re employing advanced modulation to get the most out of our capacity.