Washington -- After merging with News Corp., DirecTV Inc. is promising to
carry every local TV station in the country no later than 2008, funded by a $1
billion investment in new satellites designed to deny cable bragging rights
anywhere as the lone pay TV provider of local broadcasters.
The companies broke the news in a filing Monday with the Federal
Communications Commission, which is expected to approve the merger later this
The expanded local TV promise would likely appease the National Association
of Broadcasters, although the trade group has demanded service to all 210
markets by Jan. 1, 2006.
DirecTV chairman and CEO Eddy Hartenstein, here. to address a group of
direct-broadcast satellite retailers, said meeting the NAB's timetable was
possible if the business plan can be executed properly.
"We are looking to provide local channels through our platform in all 210
markets by no later than 2008. The goal is to get there by 2006, but there are a
lot of hurdles to get there -- technology, spectrum and all of that,"
Hartenstein told reporters after the speech.
DirecTV is the No. 1 DBS carrier, with more than 11 million subscribers. News
Corp. has agreed to pay $6.6 billion for a controlling 34% stake in Hughes
Electronics Corp., DirecTV's parent -- a deal some cable companies are
In the FCC filing, DirecTV said that if the merger closed by the end of this
year, it might be able to add about 30 more HDTV channels in 2004 with both
local and national content. But the addition of HDTV channels might force the
company to slow its local-TV-market expansion, DirecTV added.