DirecTv said it would offer select movies in Dolby Digital 5.1-channel surround sound on the STARZ! premium movie channel, starting June 29.
Encore Media Group, which distributes the STARZ! channel, has added the digital surround sound enhancement on its STARZ! East feed. Encore said the STARZ! West feed is slated to add Dolby Digital capability later this year. The first 5.1-channel movie will be Armageddon starring Bruce Willis. It will air at 10:15 p.m. ET/PT. Future 5.1-channel offerings carried via STARZ! and DirecTv will be Six Days Seven Nights, Lost in Space, ConAir, Blade, 54 and The Wedding Singer.
The STARZ! announcement is the first by a premium movie channel. DirecTv currently offers a pay-per-view channel for movies in Dolby Digital 5.1, but to receive the broadcasts, viewers must have special Dolby Digital-enabled receivers from Thomson (RCA DRD-515-RB), Sony (SAT-A4) or Hughes Network Systems. They also must connect the digital audio output from the IRD to a Dolby Digital audio receiver.
Encore is making the Dolby Digital content available to digital cable operators whose customers have set-top boxes equipped with S/PDIF digital outputs.