DirecTV: HD Additions Won’t Reduce Quality

Mar 15, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Starting in September, DirecTV plans to add 100 HD channels, but subscribers shouldn’t expect a change in their HD signal quality.
The HD feeds will continue to feature the same transmission strength the satellite TV provider currently offers, spokesman Robert Mercer said.
“[We have the] best quality now, and will have the best quality when we launch in Q3,” Mr. Mercer said. “There will be no impact on quality. HD signal quality is a paramount concern and we will balance our resources accordingly.”
Subscribers have derided DirecTV’s HD signals as “HD Lite,” saying it has a lower transmission rate than some of its rivals. DirecTV maintains that it has the best HD picture quality, a claim that has prompted online grousing from HD aficionados, as well as lawsuits from competitors and subscribers.
Mr. Mercer was asked whether- putting aside the contentious description of “quality”- DirecTV’s signal specifications would change, for better or worse, as a result of the HD upgrade. Cable and satellite operators do not distribute pure, uncompressed HD and any signal can be allocated more or less bandwidth.
He maintained there’s nothing lacking in DirecTV’s current quality and said that quality would not change despite the addition of extra channels.
In January, DirecTV announced it plans to launch 100 HD channels by the end of the year. The plan depends on the upcoming launch of a new satellite that should go online in September. Subscribers have wondered whether more channels mean a larger variety of HD offerings, or better quality.
From DirecTV’s perspective, the HD push is inherently about quality, even if the signal strength does not change. Adding HD versions of channels such as USA Network, Sci Fi Channel and MTV will vastly improve the quality of the viewing experience over their standard-definition counterparts.
DirecTV could quietly upgrade its HD transmission quality this fall without making a public statement if it is concerned about contradicting previous statements or affecting lawsuits. But thus far, the company’s priority seems to be improving marketable qualities such as the amount of programming, rather than less discernable characteristics such as transmission rates.


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