DirecTV Says 75% Buying

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In what appears to be a new disclosure, DirecTV Inc. has told a federal agency that 75% of all eligible subscribers purchase the company's package of local-TV signals, underscoring the importance of such stations in the battle for customers between cable and direct-broadcast satellite.

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

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

But in a Sept. 11 filing with the Federal Communications Commission, DirecTV related, "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.'s Dish Network, now in 71 markets with plans also to go to 100 cities, does not disclose its local-TV subscriber base totals.

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