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USDTV Expands its 'Cable Alternative' to Dallas

U.S. Digital Television, LLC (USDTV) plans to expand its wireless digital TV service to Dallas-Ft. Worth, the company's first Top 10 market. USDTV is targeted to appeal to viewers who want a cut-rate form of cable. That is, they hope to tap into the niche between antenna-only homes and cable subscribers, providing somewhat fewer channels than basic cable, but also charging less, too. USDTV's set-top box includes an HD tuner for local stations.

The Dallas/Fort Worth foray begins the commercial market-by-market launch of the USDTV, which was started by local broadcasters as a way to pool some of their spectrum for the greater good, following three pilot test-runs in Salt Lake City, Albuquerque and Las Vegas last year. USDTV recently announced a funding agreement worth nearly $26 million with its investment partners, including Fox Television Stations, Hearst-Argyle Television, McGraw-Hill Broadcasting, LIN TV, Morgan Murphy Stations and Telcom DTV.

Subs receive channels via standard VHF/UHF antennas. USDTV, in a statement, said this "strategic funding represents strong support by broadcasters and will enable the company to begin an aggressive rollout of [our] service." The service is about $20 a month and delivered terrestrially via the respective digital spectrum of the company's local broadcaster-partners. Each market's service currently averages at least 30 digital channels, including the Big Four broadcast networks. (This is not a service for news junkies; it carries only one 24-hour cable outlet, Fox News Channel.)