June , 08 , 2003

HDTV Service Now Available in 18 of top 20 Markets
from Local Cable Operators


Chicago, Ill. – Cable customers in 78 of the top 100 Designated Market Areas (DMAs) – including 18 of the top 20 – were passed by at least one cable operator that provides HDTV service as of June 1, according to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA).

The new information released today by NCTA shows that 34 markets beyond the top-100 also are being served by a cable operator offering HDTV, bringing the total number of DMAs in which at least one cable operator is offering a package of HD channels to 112 of the 210 DMAs nationwide. In terms of households, 55 million U.S. television households were passed by a cable system that offers HD, growth of nearly 50 percent since the first of the year.

NCTA reported the new numbers as the cable industry gathered here today for The National Show, the 52nd annual convention and exposition of NCTA, running through June 11 at McCormick Place.

While the mix of HD programming offered by cable operators varies from market to market, NCTA also reported that cable operators are now carrying 190 different broadcast stations that are providing a digital TV signal.

“The cable industry has thoroughly embraced HDTV, and millions of American consumers in large and small markets have the opportunity to enjoy this exciting new service from their local cable operator,” said Robert Sachs, President & CEO, NCTA. “Cable always has believed that the nation’s digital television transition will be driven by new content and applications that will benefit and attract consumers. HDTV is one of these services.”

Sachs noted the cable industry has invested $75 billion since 1996 to upgrade its infrastructure and launch advanced broadband services such as digital cable, high-speed Internet service, local telephone service, HDTV and video-on-demand.

During the same time that cable operators have launched HD service in more markets, cable program networks have also increased the amount of HD programming they are now producing. Networks currently offering HD content include HBO, Showtime, Discovery HD Theater, ESPN HD, InDemand, Madison Square Garden Network, Comcast Sports Net and HDnet. Other networks that have announced plans to begin offering HD content in 2003 include A&E Networks, Bravo and Cinemax.

“HD content is a critical factor in increasing the consumer adoption of HDTV,” Sachs said.

The cable industry’s national trade show this week in Chicago will highlight its HDTV commitment with a centerpiece “HD Pavilion” display on the exhibit floor of The National Show at McCormick Place. The HD Pavilion is designed to demonstrate the new technology that makes HD work plus showcase the ever-increasing HD content from cable and broadcast networks. Dozens of digital HDTV sets and monitors, including one of the world’s largest plasma displays, will demonstrate the crisp, clear image and sound that makes HDTV such a compelling service.

NCTA is the principal trade association of the cable television industry in the United States. NCTA represents cable operators serving more than 90 percent of the nation's cable television households and more than 200 cable program networks, as well as equipment suppliers and providers of other services to the cable industry.