DirecTv Inc. said last week that it will complete a second
direct-broadcast satellite uplink facility in mid-1999.
The company is investing $120 million in real estate,
architectural design and broadcast equipment for the new, Los Angeles-based plant,
according to DirecTv senior vice president of operations David Baylor.
The Los Angeles Broadcast Center will be located in the
Marina Del Rey section of the city. DirecTv's first broadcast center is located in
Castle Rock, Colo. Each of the broadcast centers will cost more than $10 million per year
Baylor said the investment shows that DirecTv 'is in
business for the long term.' A second uplink center will serve as a backup to
guarantee continuous service to subscribers in the event of a catastrophe at the first
The broadcast centers have redundancies built into the
technology to help protect the service in the event of system failures. But such measures
wouldn't protect the Castle Rock plant from a meteor that falls from the sky, said
Baylor. If that were to happen, he added, DirecTv 'can't just go to a commercial
uplink tomorrow and ask them to put up 200 channels for us.'
In addition to acting as an emergency backup, the LABC will
be able to take over for the Castle Rock facility when DirecTv makes technical upgrades in
preparation for new services, such as high-definition television and data broadcasts.
When the Castle Rock facility was constructed in 1992, the
standards for HDTV had not yet been finalized.
Ultimately, both broadcast centers will be able to handle
any or all of DirecTv's programming, Baylor said.
DirecTv chose Los Angeles for several reasons. The distance
from Castle Rock helps to ensure that a natural disaster at one location won't
disrupt the second site. And the new broadcast center will only be a few miles from
DirecTv's corporate headquarters.
Also, DirecTv sought a dry climate for its second broadcast
center so that the site would not be susceptible to rain fade, which could impact the
The city of Los Angeles has a business-friendly policy,
Baylor said. 'We were assigned a case worker very early on whose job was to clear out
any obstacles to our doing business in Los Angeles,' he added.
DirecTv found a compatible site in Los Angeles on 10 acres
of land, with plenty of room for the large antennas that are needed. In addition to the
broadcast center and office space, Baylor said, there's also room for small broadcast