HD Hits the Red Carpet

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Fans of Joan and Melissa Rivers can watch their annual Academy Awards red-carpet show in high-definition as part of a distribution deal between In Demand LLC and E! Entertainment Television.

Also appearing on the In Demand-owned INHD digital-cable service over the next couple of months are USA Network's Westminster Dog Show, vintage footage from past Olympics and unique seventh-hole coverage of the 2004 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament.

E!'s Feb. 29 six-hour programming block —Live Countdown to the Academy Awards and Live From the Red Carpet: Academy Awards— will be carried in standard definition on E! and simulcast in HDTV on INHD, In Demand COO Robert Jacobson said.

The agreement marks the first time E!'s highly rated events will be aired in HDTV format.

Said E! CEO Mindy Herman in a statement: "This first project with In Demand marks our foray into the burgeoning HDTV market, and the Oscars red carpet represents an exciting way to truly explore the benefits and features of the technology."

For animal lovers, INHD will also simulcast USA Network's popular 2004 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in HD on Feb. 9 and Feb. 10, Jacobson said, calling the event "among a select group of cable's highest-rated programs."

Jacobson said the E! and USA Network deal are the first of many entertainment-based deals INHD hopes to reach with basic-cable networks as more programming is made available for HDTV.

On the sports side, INHD will air live tournament play from the Pebble Beach Golf Links' seventh hole on Feb. 5 and 6 as part of a unique deal with the PGA Tour.

Jacobson said the telecasts emulate the one-hole viewing experience many tournament attendees have at live events.

He said he hoped the deal would open the doors for future HD agreements for PGA events.

Along with the golf agreement, INHD last week (Jan. 22) began to air archival films from more than 16 Summer and Winter Olympic Games, as part of a multiyear agreement between the network and the United States Olympic Committee.

The agreement marks the first time the USOC — under the auspices of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Olympic Television Archive Bureau (OTAB) — has allowed these films to be converted to high-definition format.