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Tracking Satellite HD Options

1/05/2006 03:00:00 AM Eastern

Although the nation's two primary direct-to-home satellite TV suppliers are moving to significantly increase their HDTV offerings, both have been offering HD channels for several years.

DirecTV's current HD package includes ESPN HD, ESPN2 HD, Discovery HD Theater, Universal HD, HDNet, HDNet Movies and HD Special Event for $10.99 per month.

This football season, via its exclusive NFL Sunday Ticket package, the company aired more than 125 NFL games in HD. It also offers a HD pay-per-view channel, HBO HDTV and SHO HD. The premium channels in high definition are included to subscribers of those services.

Customers in HD local launch markets, who take a package that has local channels, will have the local HD added for no extra monthly programming fee.

For owners of current equipment, DirecTV still offers all four NY/LA feeds in owned-and-operated (O&O) markets. However, under company agreements with the four major networks, customers in O&O markets will lose their distant network feeds after local HD channels become available in their area.

Under the SHVERA rules, eligible customers not in an O&O market who are currently subscribing to digital Distant Network Signals (DNS) can keep them after the company launches HD/digital local in their market.

Dish Network, meanwhile, offers a $9.99 per month rate for ESPN HD, Discovery HD Theater, TNT in HD, HD Net, HD Net Movies, HBO HDTV, SHO HD, Dish on Demand PPV and CBS HD in 17 O&O cities (using WCBS in New York and KCBS from LA).

In 2005, EchoStar purchased the hardware assets of VOOM, Cablevision's ill-fated HD satellite system.

VOOM still exists as a programmer and Dish currently offers 10 VOOM HD channels for an additional $5 per month.

Eleven new channels will be officially announced at International CES so Dish Network HD subscribers will have access to a total of 21 VOOM channels.

Dish is running a promotion for six free months of HD programming when a customer signs a premium subscription.

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