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FCC gives DirecTV Dish time on high-def

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2008-03-30          152578

Well looks like the wait will be longer, rats! While we all be able to get the National Locals in HD, it does mean that Satellite Dishes and receivers will be stuck in this multi mode multi cable situation until 2013.

Per AP March 27, 2008

"Mar. 27, 2008 (Thomson Financial delivered by Newstex) --

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal regulators have given the nation's two satellite television providers a reprieve on a February 2009 deadline for offering all local broadcast stations in high-definition format.

On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission issued a formal order, saying DirecTV Group Inc. (NASDAQ:DTV) and Dish Network Corp. don't need to carry high-definition signals of all local TV stations in any market where they carry even one station that broadcasts in that format by February next year.

That is the month when nearly all broadcasters will be required to switch to digital programming, the FCC had ruled earlier.

The companies had argued they just didn't have the technical capacity to carry all high-definition channels, which takes up more bandwidth than a standard signal. Instead, the companies proposed a four-year plan to accomplish that.

Currently, the satellite operators are required to carry standard-definition signals of all local TV stations in markets they serve under the so-called 'carry one, carry all' requirement. DirecTV currently serves 148 U.S. markets where it transmits local TV signals, while Dish serves more than 175 markets. There are 210 total U.S. markets.

The FCC voted unanimously last week to allow the companies to comply by 2013 on the 'carry one, carry all' rule for high-definition programming.

The 'carry one, carry all' requirement is intended to prevent carriers from choosing only the most popular broadcast stations, preventing other local broadcasters from reaching potential viewers.

Timing for satellite carriers to implement this rule in high-def is more lenient than what the FCC imposed on the cable industry in September.

The agency ruled then that cable operators must carry both digital and analog broadcast TV signals for three years after the nation switches to a digital format in early 2009. The government wanted to ensure that the 40 million households, which are analog-only cable subscribers, can view TV programming after the transition.

El Segundo, Calif.-based DirecTV, the nation's No. 1 provider, has about 16.8 million subscribers, while Englewood, Colo.-based Dish Network has about 13.8 million subscribers."

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