Shapiro Eyes Cable/Sat HD Competition


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Sep 8, 2003
Las Vegas, Nevada
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Who's going to be top dog in delivering high-def content?

Doug Shapiro, cable/satellite TV analyst with Banc of America Securities, released research Wednesday that looks at high-def competition between the two services, and he gave a slight edge to wired services in his report. While satellite TV may have better relationships with retailers and can deliver a national HDTV signal ubiquitously, cable may have an easier time with high-def locals, he said.

"How important is this (cable's local HD)? We think it's important," Shapiro said. "For all the discussion about ratings deterioration at the broadcast nets, they still account for roughly half of all TV viewing. And while most sports programming is on cable, the broadcast networks still show substantial sports programming, particularly NFL games and postseason games for the major professional sports."

Satellite TV has options, such as off-air antenna technology, the use of FSS satellites, and growing into Ka-Band spectrum. The two largest DBS services - EchoStar and DirecTV - also could share capacity.

"Another concept that gets floated is that DirecTV and EchoStar will combine forces, sharing spectrum and collaborating technologically in an effort to deliver local signals," Shapiro said. "But even if they could work out the technical hurdles, it's not clear what incentive Hughes would have to help EchoStar out if it believes that it can solve the problem using its Ka-band capacity."

The analyst added, "And in any case, even sharing resources wouldn't necessarily speed a resolution; it would just make it cheaper for each."

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