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DirecTV’s 101 Network To Air Farm Aid Live in HD

Farm Aid’s Sept. 20 New England music festival will be broadcast live in high-definition on DirecTV’s The 101 Network, which reaches more than 17 million viewers, officials said Monday.

The commercial-free Farm Aid 2008 Presented by Whole Foods Market and Horizon Organic will be broadcast from the Comcast Center near Boston. The event will feature performances by Farm Aid president and founder Willie Nelson; board members Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews and country music star Kenny Chesney. Coverage on The 101 Network will air 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.

“This year we are excited to bring the Farm Aid experience to homes across the country, inviting viewers who can’t make it to the show to join our celebration of music, good food and family farmers,” Carolyn Mugar, Farm Aid’s executive director, said in a prepared statement. “The generosity of all of the musicians who donate their performances on behalf of family farmers is an inspiration to the many viewers at home who also want to show their support. DirecTV is generously leading the way, offering to match its subscribers’ gifts from Sept. 6 to Sept. 30 up to $50,000.”

In addition to stage performances, DirecTV’s broadcast will feature interviews with artists, farmers and food activists; clips from the pre-concert press event; and exclusive backstage coverage and footage from Farm Aid’s unique, interactive Homegrown Village, which showcases the direct connection between who is growing our food and what we eat every day.

The seven‑hour broadcast will be filmed entirely in HDTV and air in 5.1 surround sound.

The 101 Network broadcast will also include an interactive application that allows viewers to learn more about Farm Aid, the artists performing at the show and how they can find good food from family farmers. Viewers can access the interactive application by simply pressing the red button on their remote control during the live broadcast.

The show will rebroadcast in its entirety four times, the first starting immediately following the end of the live broadcast and then three more times on Sept. 21. Albert Spevak is executive producer of the Ambassador Entertainment production. Lawrence Jordan is directing, Philip Hack and Robert Katz are producers, and Susan Steiner is segment producer.

“We’re giving our more than 17.1 million subscribers a front row seat to this legendary benefit concert while encouraging them to support such an important cause that affects us all on many levels,” Patty Ishimoto, vice president of DirecTV Entertainment and general manager of The 101 Network, said in a prepared statement. “The 101 Network is known for bringing its viewers quality programming that they can’t get anywhere else and we’re excited to add Farm Aid to our already robust fall lineup.”

Farm Aid also announced that The Pretenders, moe., Arlo Guthrie, Jerry Lee Lewis, Steve Earle, Nation Beat, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Jakob Dylan and The Gold Mountain Rebels, Danielle Evin, Jamey Johnson, Jesse Lenat, Will Dailey, One Flew South and The Elms will join previously announced performers Nelson, Young, Mellencamp, Matthews and Chesney.