DirecTV Rolls Out Local PBS Stations in HD

DirecTV Wednesday began launching local public TV stations in HDTV across the country, according to company officials.

DirecTV is continuing its HDTV expansion with the launch of local Public Broadcasting Service stations in 14 markets and will continue to roll out additional markets through the end of the year and in 2009—ahead of the Feb. 17 digital transition.

Local PBS stations in HD are now available in: Cedar Rapids-Waterloo-Iowa City-Dubuque, Iowa; Chicago; Davenport, Iowa-Rock Island-Moline, Ill.; Detroit; Houston; Los Angeles; Miami-Fort Lauderdale; Minneapolis-St. Paul; New York; Norfolk-Newport News, Va.; Phoenix; Portland, Ore.; Rochester, N.Y.; and Waco-Temple-Bryan, Texas.

The local public-television HD launch follows the recent ratification by public television stations of the agreement reached late last year by DirecTV, the Association of Public Television Stations and PBS. Under the agreement, DirecTV will offer HD programming from local public television stations in markets where it now provides local HD channels to its customers. DirecTV offers local HD programming in 115 markets, representing more than 87% of U.S. TV households.

“We applaud the cooperative effort put forth by the member stations, APTS and PBS, to ratify the digital carriage agreement that enables DirecTV to begin delivering local public television stations in HD to our customers,” Derek Chang, DirecTV’s executive vice president of content strategy and development, said in a prepared statement. “As the industry’s HD leader and the only satellite TV provider to offer local PBS stations in HD, we believe in delivering content that is worthy of this incredible technology. The addition of PBS’s high-quality programming to our HD lineup continues to raise the bar on the DirecTV viewing experience.”

APTS acting president and CEO Lonna Thompson said: “DirecTV has taken the historic step of ensuring its satellite customers have access to our stations’ local digital programming. We commend DirecTV’s leadership in serving satellite viewers.”

DirecTV will also carry two national, standard-definition channels of public television programming and will work with APTS and PBS stations to develop programming for its video-on-demand service.

“The digital future holds extraordinary promise for public television,” PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger said in a prepared statement. “This agreement helps ensure that all Americans will be able to enjoy the outstanding HD programming presented by our local stations across the nation.”