DirecTV Premieres HDNet for Sports Fans
With its widescreen, high-res images, HDTV is a perfect match for sports. But outside of golf, college football, and the occasional Major League baseball game, there wasn't a lot of high-def sports to watch for the better part of 2001. The picture started to improve on September 6, however, when DirecTV launched the HDNet channel.
Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, started HDNet, which shows a daily lineup of primarily sports-oriented high-def programming, including live NHL Hockey, Major League baseball, and National Lacrosse League games. HDNet also plans to air events from the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Rounding out the sports is an eclectic mix of high-def programming, including monster truck meets, nature documentaries, and concert footage of rock & roll bands ranging from Mötley Crüe to Yes.
Other new high-def programming sources on satellite were scarce in 2001. Dish Network added CBS's New York City and Los Angeles high-def feeds to its lineup, which includes HBO, ShowTime, and a pay-per-view channel. (Receiving the CBS feeds is subject to restrictions, so contact Dish Network at 800-333-3474 to see if you qualify.) In addition to HBO-HD and HDNet, DirecTV continues to offer pay-per-view movies in high-def. But HDTV on satellite could be in for a serious boost if the proposed purchase of DirecTV by Dish Network owner EchoStar goes through. The deal is now being reviewed by government regulators for potential antitrust violations. If the consolidation happens, current subscribers to either service will receive the full suite of high-def channels now available on satellite.
Terrorist Attack Knocks NYC's HDTV Off the Air
When terrorists attacked the World Trade Center on September 11, they destroyed more than thousands of lives and a landmark feature of the Manhattan skyline. The disaster also took out the broadcast signals of a number of New York City TV stations that had transmitters located on the Twin Towers. The stations, which included the NBC, ABC, PBS, and UPN affiliates, quickly restored a portion of their analog coverage by relocating transmitters to a tower in New Jersey. But the redeployment didn't extend to digital and HDTV broadcasts, which had only started to gain a foothold in the New York area a few months before the attack. (Because CBS and Fox had their digital and backup analog transmitters on the Empire State Building, they were able to avoid service interruptions on both analog and digital channels.)
The loss of digital broadcasts from the networks' flagship New York stations is a setback for HDTV. And the problem won't be quickly resolved. Although a few stations have since migrated their analog transmitters from New Jersey to the Empire State Building, the structure can't handle both the analog and digital demands of all the city's broadcasters. A number of other sites for constructing a new tower are being discussed, but it will take some time before a decision is made and HDTV broadcasting gets up and running again in the New York metropolitan area.
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