Local News

Local Television May Beam to a Satellite Near You

Posted April 28, 1999

— A bill that would spur competition between television cable systems and satellite operators has passed in theU.S. House.

If the bill becomes law, TV viewers would be able to receive their local stations as well as premium services on one satellite dish.

North Carolina Congressman Howard Coble co-authored the bill. He says more competition between cable and satellite will help everyone.

"I think that it will inevitably ensure to the benefit of our consumers," Coble said.

If the satellite bill passes,Local Television on Satelliteowned byCapitol Broadcasting Company, plans to launch satellites that could serve markets across the country.

"We are talking about applying, at Local Television on Satellite, a brand new technology that has not been used for this application," says Chief Operating Officer John Hutchinson. "Currently, the satellites that are up there cover the entire United States."

That capability does not allow broadcasts to specific markets. The new technology, called spot beam, will allow satellite viewers in a market, and only that market, to see their local stations on satellite for a small fee.

TV stations around the country would use large dishes to transmit their signal to two satellites which would, in turn, re-transmit the signal to specific markets.

The two satellites can handle 800 TV stations broadcastinghigh definitionimages. The initial phase of the project would reach 75 percent of U.S. homes.

If all goes as planned, Triangle residents could be watching the local stations on satellite in about three years.

A spokesperson forTime Warner Cablein the Triangle says the company has no problem with the satellite bill. Since "all" stations in a market will have to be carried as they are on cable, both satellite and cable have a "level playing field".

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