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ABC and DIRECTV Reach Agreement for Retransmission of ABC Owned Television Stations; DIRECTV Will Also Carry Disney/ABC Cable Networks' SoapNet.


ABC Inc. and DIRECTV today announced that they have entered into a multi-year agreement in which the ABC Owned Television Stations will provide DIRECTV customers in their metropolitan markets across the United States with their local signals.

The announcement was made by Robert A. Iger, chairman, ABC Inc. and president, Walt Disney International, and Eddy W. Hartenstein, president of DIRECTV.

In addition to the agreement, DIRECTV also announced that it will carry SoapNet, the new Disney/ABC Cable Networks' 24-hour soap opera channel.

In making the announcement, Iger said: "This is a real break-through moment in our business. We are pleased that a satellite company -- for the first time in history -- will be able to provide our local stations to the local communities they serve. This is good for consumers and for local stations."

Under the terms of the Retransmission Consent Agreement, ABC has granted DIRECTV, the nation's largest satellite television service, consent to retransmit the signals of ABC's 10 owned television stations.

With enabling legislation signed into law last week, DIRECTV will offer its customers in the ABC owned station markets access to their local ABC signals, including news, weather, sports, entertainment and other community-based information. DIRECTV has rolled out local channels in Los Angeles; New York; Washington, D.C.; Denver; and San Francisco.

DIRECTV will continue to expand its local-into-local service throughout the remainder of the year to include additional markets where ABC owns stations. The agreement will provide the network with satellite coverage of millions of U.S. television homes.

DIRECTV customers will also continue to receive all programming on the ABC Television Network, from "Good Morning America" through daytime, primetime, and late night; and all news and sports programming.

"The agreement with ABC is an important step in our plan to offer DIRECTV customers a complete package of local entertainment and information programming via satellite," said DIRECTV's Hartenstein.

"Customers have been waiting for some time to receive the major broadcast networks via satellite. With this agreement and the recent passage of enabling legislation, they will soon have that opportunity."

ABC owned television stations collectively reach more than 24 percent of U.S. television homes. ABC owned stations also consistently rank among their local market's most popular news and entertainment providers.

ABC owns 10 stations nationwide, including six stations in the top 11 markets. Some of the popular hits on ABC's primetime schedule include "The Drew Carey Show," "Spin City," "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire," "Dharma & Greg," "The Practice" and "Monday Night Football."

SoapNet Agreement

SoapNet, a 24/7 soap opera channel, will feature same-day telecasts of the top-rated ABC Daytime soap operas, including "All My Children," "General Hospital," "One Life To Live" and "Port Charles" -- as well as ABC's former classic soap, "Ryan's Hope," and some of the most popular primetime serial dramas from Warner Bros. such as "Knots Landing," "Falcon Crest," "Hotel," "Sisters" and "The Colbys." In addition, SoapNet will also launch with an original soap news on-air and online series, Soap Center.

"We have legions of passionate soap opera fans among our customers," said Hartenstein, "With the quality and variety of ABC's daytime programming, there is little doubt that SoapNet will be an enormously popular addition to our lineup."

Added Anne Sweeney, president of Disney/ABC Cable Networks, "SoapNet will now be broadcast nationwide via DIRECTV to millions of viewers who are devoted to soap operas. The DIRECTV agreement ensures instant national reach for this new network."

ABC Inc. owns 10 television stations: WABC-TV, New York; KABC-TV, Los Angeles; WLS-TV, Chicago; WPVI-TV, Philadelphia; KGO-TV, San Francisco; KTRK-TV, Houston; WTVD, Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; KFSN-TV, Fresno, Calif.; WJRT-TV, Flint, Mich.; and WTVG, Toledo, Ohio.

Disney/ABC Cable Networks was established in 1996. Its mission is to create and develop new networks and oversee and manage the portfolio of properties in which The Walt Disney Company has an equity position.

This includes Disney Channel (100 percent), Toon Disney (100 percent), SoapNet (100 percent), Lifetime (50 percent), Lifetime Movie Network (50 percent), E! (39.6 percent), Style (39.6 percent), A&E (37.5 percent), The History Channel (37.5 percent), History Channel International (37.5 percent) and The Biography Channel (37.5 percent).

DIRECTV has approximately 7.8 million customers, including customers subscribing to PRIMESTAR By DIRECTV. DIRECTV is a registered trademark of DIRECTV Inc., a unit of Hughes Electronics Corp. Hughes Electronics is the world's leading provider of digital television entertainment, and satellite and wireless systems and services.

The earnings of Hughes Electronics, a unit of General Motors Corp. are used to calculate the earnings per share attributable to the General Motors Class H common stock (NYSE:GMH). Visit DIRECTV on the World Wide Web at
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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 6, 1999
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