Cdn. broadcasters still up in the air on DBS

The United States' first direct broadcast satellite starts beaming 75 to 80 channels worth of programming to American viewers in April although there is no word if or when Canadians will get the same opportunity.Linda Brill, a spokeswoman for DirecTV in...

The United States’ first direct broadcast satellite starts beaming 75 to 80 channels worth of programming to American viewers in April although there is no word if or when Canadians will get the same opportunity.

Linda Brill, a spokeswoman for DirecTV in Los Angeles, says the company has a representative working in Canada at DirecTV Canada in Toronto.

But Brill says there are no firm dates about regulatory clearance, service availability and satellite dish sales.

Some Canadian cable operators argued at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission hearings in Hull, Que. last March it was unfair they were not permitted to offer their customers programming delivered by direct broadcast satellite.

The matter is still under consideration.

At least one Canadian company, Tee-Comm Electronics in Milton, Ont., has said it will provide viewers here with a direct broadcast satellite service of up to 150 channels delivered via one of Telesat Canada’s Anik E satellites sometime late this year.

The DBS-1 satellite was lifted into geosynchronous orbit by a French Ariane rocket launched in French Guiana Dec. 17.

It will broadcast programming from DirecTV, a unit of GM Hughes Electronics, and United States Satellite Broadcasting, a subsidiary of Hubbard Broadcasting.

A second satellite, DBS-2, will join DBS-1 in six months.

Advertising is envisaged for DirecTV at some point.

Together, the satellites will deliver 150 channels of programming to u.s. homes with rca’s digital satellite system receiving equipment comprising an 18-inch-diameter dish, digital satellite receiver and universal remote controller.

The package retails in the u.s. for about $700.

DBS-1, and later DBS-2, are interactive, with their interactivity delivered through a home phone connection.

So, for example, the receiver’s computer memory can handle orders placed on a home shopping channel.

One of the committed programming suppliers is cbc tv.

The national broadcaster will provide news through Newsworld International and features through Northstar.

Other suppliers include The Learning Channel, Universal Pictures, Playboy TV, cnn, CNN International, The Disney Channel, c-span, Sony Pictures Classics, The Golf Channel and The Cartoon Network.