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Weather Channel HD Facility Nears Finish Line

The Weather Channel said its 12,500-square-foot high-definition TV production facility in Atlanta is on track to be completed this month, and has set June 2 for the premiere of its first HD studio programs.

Once construction is complete, workers will install 10,000 square feet of access flooring and 480 electric circuits for studio lights in the facility, which is adjacent to The Weather Channel’s existing headquarters. 

By early May, it will load sets into the four-story-high HD studio and start rehearsals. Weather Channel expects to launch its first two HD studio programs, Your Weather Today and Evening Edition, on June 2.

Weather Channel president Debora Wilson has said the programmer will spend $50 million on the new facility and on other HD projects. It broke ground on the facility last May.

By the end of 2008, Weather Channel says virtually its entire 24-hour schedule will be in native HD. Previously, it had been aiming to reach that goal by mid-year.

The network has reached agreements for carrying its HD simulcast with Comcast, Charter Communications, Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV and Dish Network, as well as with other cable operators

Earlier this month Weather Channel launched a new program shot in native HD, When Weather Changed History, adding to Epic Conditions and Weather Ventures, which are shot in the format. Weather Channel said it has already put a new master control room into operation that oversees both standard-definition and HDTV programming.

 Last month, the network’s parent company, Landmark Communications, said it hired investment bankers JP Morgan Chase and Lehman Bros. to advise it in a strategic review that could include a possible breakup of the company, including the sale of The Weather Channel.