USDTV Launching in Hampton Roads, Va.

Billing itself as a "family-friendly" service, USDTV said at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Thursday that it will roll out in the seaport town of Hampton Roads, Va., in the spring.

That will be the fifth market for the broadcaster-backed over-the-air digitail-subscription service, which is already available in Vegas, Dallas-Fort Worth, Salt Lake City, and Albuquerque, N.M.

The USDTV service, which launched a year and a half ago, uses local broadcasters' digital channels to deliver the mix of station and program network lineup--$19.95 per month--in competition to cable and other multichannel video providers. It employs a set-top box so that analog as well as digital sets can recieve the service.

In addition to the digital channels of eight local stations (the market is Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News)--including LIN's WAVY--the programming package includes ESPN, Fox News Channel, Toon Disney, Food Network, Discovery Channel, TLC, Home & Garden and Lifetime.

"Our channel lineup is designed for value-oriented families who are tired of paying for channels they never watch and don't want coming into their home," said USDTV CEO Steve Lindsley in a statement.

USDTV is obviously looking to capitalize on the issue of family-friendly cable tiers with a service that essentially mirrors the lineup some cable operators have pledged to offer in an attempt to appease critics in Washington.

Partners in the USDTV effort influde Fox, Hearst-Argyle, McGraw-Hill, LIN TV and Morgan Murphy Stations.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.