A Sneak Peek at DBS ITV

Attendees at next month’s Consumer Electronics Show will get at least a glimpse of the new interactive-TV features DirecTV Inc. expects to spring in the coming year.

They include the launch of three “mosaic channels” that will allow subscribers to view multiple channels from the same genre on one screen.

Similar in form to the OpenTV Corp.-made channels that EchoStar Communications Corp.’s Dish Network used during the Summer Olympic Games and the November election, the mosaic products are among the interactive features DirecTV will introduce to further turn up the heat on cable.

News Corp., which now controls DirecTV, has used interactive TV extensively on its United Kingdom satellite platform, British Sky Broadcasting Group plc.

The mosaic channels were developed in-house at DirecTV, according to spokesman Bob Marsocci.

He said the “Newsmix” channel will feature five or six feeds on one screen, including Cable News Network, CNBC, CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel and The Weather Channel.

Subscribers will be able to hear the audio from whichever channel is highlighted and use arrows on their remote controls to listen to the feed from one of the other channels featured on the mosaic.

Viewers will also be able to select one of the channels on the grid to view the traditional full-screen version.

Marsocci said DirecTV is building a soundstage and studio at its broadcast center in Los Angeles, which will be home to an anchor person who’ll discuss the content on Newsmix and on a sports mosaic channel called “Sportsmix.”

DirecTV plans to unveil the mosaic networks -- also including a “Kidsmix” channel that will feature children’s networks -- at the CES in Las Vegas, which begins Jan. 6.

Marsocci wouldn’t detail the content on Sportsmix and Kidsmix, but said he assumed some of ESPN’s networks would be included. ESPN officials declined to comment last week.

DirecTV has also obtained a trademark for a “Shoppingmix” channel, but Marsocci said no date has been set for the launch of that network, which could feature shop-at-home networks.

For more on DirecTV’s mosaic channels, please see Steve Donohue’s story on page one of Monday’s issue of Multichannel News.