As promised at January CES, DirecTV launched the third HDTV channel on its DBS platform, now offering Showtime's HDTV channel.
The channel began transmitting to DirecTV Showtime/HDTV subscribers April 30 using a third orbital slot (110 degrees West Longitude) that requires a triple LNB dish.
DirecTV president Roxanne Austin said at CES that the satellite service was planning to add a third HDTV channel but did not provide specifics. The new HDTV, dubbed SHO HDTV, joins HBO and HDNet in HDTV on DirecTV.
DirecTV will carry the East Coast SHO HDTV 24 hours a day on channel 543 in 1080i with Dolby Digital sound. To receive the service, customers will need to subscribe to one of DirecTV's programming packages plus the Showtime Unlimited package.
In a related announcement, Showtime said it will now offer Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound for many films and features on every one of its standard definition and HDTV channels. The result is 32 Dolby Digital 5.1 enabled channels.
Since launching the audio format Showtime said it has aired more than 190 movies, including theatricals and Showtime Original Pictures, and 145 series episodes in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. Upcoming theatrical offerings in Dolby Digital 5.1 for May and June include "Save the Last Dance," "The Ladies Man," "Hannibal," "Spy Kids," "Apocalypse Now: Redux" and "Along Came a Spider."