DirecTV: 75% of Eligible Subs Buy Local TV


In what appears to be a new disclosure, DirecTV Inc. has reported to a
federal agency that 75% of all eligible subscribers purchase its local-TV-signal
package, underscoring the importance of local TV stations in the cable vs.
direct-broadcast satellite battle for customers.

DirecTV offers local TV signals in 64 markets and plans to serve 100 markets
by the end of the year with the launch of its seventh satellite. The company,
with more than 11 million subscribers, is awaiting federal approval to combine
with News Corp.

DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer said the company usually describes its local
TV take rate in terms of new-subscriber purchases.

"What we have said is that 90% of new customers" sign up for local TV, Mercer

But in a Sept. 11 filing with the Federal Communications Commission, DirecTV
said, "As of June 30, 2003, 75% of all residential customers were taking the
local-programming packages in markets in which such packages are available."

EchoStar Communications Corp. -- now in 71 markets with plans to also go to
100 -- does not disclose its local TV subscriber-base totals except to say that
more than 50% of all new customers sign up for local TV signals where