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LG To Produce New DirecTV Boxes

El Segundo, Calif. – DirecTV said it has selected LG Electronics as the first manufacturer of its new MPEG-4 high-definition set-top boxes.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but the companies said LG has already started production of the new decoders.

DirecTV said it will use the extra capacity afforded by the MPEG-4 compression system and several new satellites to “launch the most dramatic expansion of programming in its history.”

The satellite provider will begin the expansion this fall by delivering local channels in HD in major U.S. markets. By 2007, DirecTV said it plans to offer more than 1,500 local broadcast channels and more than 150 national channels in HD.

The LG set-top boxes will be sold under the DirecTV brand name. They will include an advanced program guide, advanced security, and protected digital outputs (HDMI/HDCP) with simultaneous component/composite output, as well as a general-purpose LINUX-operating-system and USB port, DirecTV said.

The LG boxes will include a Broadcom MPEG chipset and LG’s fifth-generation “VSB” chipset, which will enable the reception of MPEG-2 standard-definition programming and terrestrial ATSC digital broadcasts, in addition to the new MPEG-4 content.

The agreement also “sets the stage for LG to develop next-generation MPEG-4 HD DVRs (High-Definition Digital Video Recorders) and Home Media Center set-top boxes,” the companies said.