Broadcasters to Fund USDTV


U.S. Digital Television Inc., a low-cost “best-of-television” wireless service, is completing a deal to get a round of funding from several major broadcasters.

“These leading broadcast groups are going to own and control the business of USDTV,” CEO Steve Lindsley said. “This has been my primary objective from day one.”

USDTV’s strategy -- which entails leasing spectrum from local TV stations in order to offer a limited digital lineup of cable networks and broadcasters -- was recently cited by the Federal Communications Commission in its report panning a la carte.

Lindsley was buoyed by that report, which noted that “more choices in program selection,” like the $19.95-per-month offering from USDTV, are appearing through marketplace forces, and not regulation.

Since launching earlier this year, USDTV has tallied 10,000 subscribers in Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and Albuquerque, N.M. The company is providing an over-the-air package of 20-30 channels, including one-dozen popular cable networks like ESPN and HDTV signals, for $19.95.

USDTV’s game plan is to lure cable and direct-broadcast satellite subscribers, as well as cable-nevers who don’t want to pay $50 or more per month for a huge battery of cable networks.