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DirecTV, LG Team for HDTV Cable Boxes

Satellite television provider DirecTV and LG Electronics today announced a deal under which the latter will supply the former’s customers with digital HDTV set-top boxes based on new video compression technology.

These new HDTV set-top boxes, the two companies said in statement, are set for use in DirecTV’s MPEG-4 HD satellite broadcasts. These broadcasts are set to begin this fall when DirecTV begins offering local broadcast channels in HD in major markets throughout the United States. By 2007, DIRECTV plans to offer more than 1,500 local broadcast channels and more than 150 national channels in HD.

The new HDTV satellite MPEG-4 broadcast services, said DirecTV, for the first time in the world “employ advanced digital compression technology to deliver more channels in the same frequency bandwidth as existing ones.”

The boxes, to be sold under the DirecTV brand name, feature digital outputs (HDMI/HDCP) with simultaneous component/composite output, as well as a general-purpose LINUX-operating-system and USB port. They are built around Broadcom’s MPEG chipset and LG’s fifth-generation “VSB” chipset. They will “allow viewers to watch not only MPEG-4 HD satellite broadcasts, but also existing MPEG-2 standard- definition programming and terrestrial ATSC (Advanced Television System Committee) digital HDTV and SDTV broadcasts.”

“Consumer demand for HD is exploding, and DIRECTV is ushering in a new era in satellite delivery of HD content using a powerful new broadcasting technology, MPEG-4,” said Romulo Pontual, executive vice president and chief technology officer, DIRECTV, Inc. “This will enable us to greatly enhance our customers’ viewing experience by offering the widest array of HD programming available. The technical and manufacturing capabilities of LG Electronics, coupled with their strong commitment to this specific program, make LG a terrific partner for DIRECTV.”

“Our agreement with DIRECTV builds on LG’s role as a long-time HDTV technology leader and as a key supplier of DIRECTV MPEG-2 HD set-top boxes for five years,” said B.B. Hwang, president and CEO, Digital Media Company. “LG Electronics DIRECTV deserves as lot of credit for bringing the MPEG-4 digital video compression platform to high-definition transmission, and LG is proud to play a major role in the deployment of this important technology.”

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