Ion Launches HD With SES Americom

Ion Media Networks has signed a multiyear distribution agreement to launch its full suite of television networks in HD on SES Americom's HD-Prime delivery platform.

Ion Television HD, the 60th high-def channel to join HD-Prime, debuts this week on SES satellite AMC-1. HD versions of Ion's qubo, a multilingual children's network, and Ion Life, devoted to active lifestyles, are set to follow later this year. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"Ion has tapped expanded distribution capacity aboard HD-Prime to offer our programming in a crisp high-definition picture quality to viewers in more than 94 million homes across the country," said Mark Greenlee, Ion Media Networks senior vice president of network operations.

The broadcast media group had previously planned to launch Ion Television HD in 20 markets Feb. 16 but moved the date to March 16, citing a desire to "reduce consumer confusion" surrounding Congress' decision to move the digital-TV transition hard date.

Ion Television HD will carry both native and up-converted HD programming on all 60 network stations in the U.S.

The HD-distribution agreement between ION and SES Americom runs through the life of the AMC-1 satellite, launched in 1996. The hybrid C- and Ku-band spacecraft is located at 103 degrees west.