DirecTV now airs local stations
DIRECTV GROUP INC.,
the biggest U.S. satellite television provider, began broadcasting Hawaii's eight major TV stations yesterday
via new satellites and upgraded technology.
"Many customers in Hawaii who have had few options for the reception of local programming, are now able to view their favorite local news and entertainment programming via DirecTV," said Dan Fawcett, executive vice president for programming acquisition, in a statement. DirecTV's Hawaii competitors include Oceanic Time Warner Cable and DISH Network, another direct broadcast satellite service provider.
The local, national network and syndicated programming carried by KHON (Fox), KITV (ABC), KGMB (CBS), KHNL (NBC), KHET (PBS), KFVE (WB) and KIKU (independent), had not been previously available via DirecTV's direct broadcast satellite service.
The irony is that while DirecTV is now carrying the programming, there is only one known location where its Hawaii customers can see it because the equipment isn't scheduled to begin arriving for several days.
"This is new equipment, so it's going to take a little longer than usual to get it fully distributed, into the pipeline," said Robert Mercer, public relations director.
Customers can check out the new receiving equipment and live local channel feeds at the Satellite Guy Inc. at 2017 S. King Street, according to Satellite Guy's president, Jason Gardner.
The equipment for existing DirecTV customers and any new customers will begin arriving in the next week or so, he said.
"They can come see it now," or from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday for the official launch party, he said.
The Satellite Guy has two weeks' worth of installation requests for the new equipment and will be able to hook up new customers "just a little bit after Christmas," Gardner said.
The previous lack of local programming and the nonavailability of DirecTV reception equipment in Hawaii caused the state to file a complaint against DirecTV with the Federal Communications Commission in April 2003.
The state's Cable Television Division found no retailers selling DirecTV's reception equipment. At the time, Clyde Sonobe, division administrator, said, "That's not to say there aren't any, there may be a small electronics shop."
Yesterday, there were some discrepancies between the dealers identified by DirecTV Public Relations Director Mercer and those listed on the company Web site.
The nationwide stores that accept orders for DirecTV equipment and service are Best Buy, Blockbuster and Wal-Mart.
The companies that have confirmed a dealer-relationship with DirecTV include the Satellite Guy, Pacific Satellite Systems LLC at 677 Ala Moana Blvd. and Ironwood Communications at 740 Moowaa St.
DirecTV doesn't have any installers locally, so they use third-party companies such as Ironwood, said Field Supervisor Bob Kaneko.
"We're going to start doing the installs by the end of the month," after the upgraded equipment arrives, he said.
The state is "reviewing and assessing (DirecTV's) announcement to see if it in fact complies with the FCC order" issued after the state's complaint, Sonobe said.
"We're hopeful that DirecTV has finally come around and met their obligations," Sonobe said, but he declined further comment until the review is complete.
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Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org