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DirecTV’s Ike Lifeline: Live Feed From KHOU

DirecTV subscribers around the country who fretted after loved ones in the Houston and New Orleans areas during Hurricanes Ike and Gustav were able to watch 24-hour coverage from local-station feeds in both cities.

The satellite provider cleared for a national audience the feed from CBS affiliate KHOU in Houston Sept. 12 to 14 during the time the station was airing commercial-free, up-to-the minute coverage of Ike. The Category 3 storm raked the Texas and Louisiana coasts, causing an estimated $22 billion in damage, according to reports.

DirecTV said it’s able to make local-station feeds available nationally if the station is airing local news coverage. During Labor Day weekend, DirecTV offered live coverage of Hurricane Gustav to more than 17 million subscribers from New Orleans affiliate station WDSU. Gustav, a Category 2 hurricane when it hit Louisiana, caused damage in excess of $10 billion.

DirecTV passed along a note of thanks from a viewer named Jennifer E. who was watching the KHOU feed: “Being from Houston and still having family and friends there and being able to watch the local news on the big screen without having to huddle around the laptop sure is nice,” she said.

Viewers also got updates on both storms via a dedicated 24-hour channel showing storm maps, evacuation routes and relief information for those who want to help out folks in distressed areas of the country.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.