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MAJOR PROGRAMMERS JOIN NEW DIGITAL TV SERVICE FOR RURAL AMERICA

 WASHINGTON, May 21 /PRNewswire/ -- At least a dozen major cable programmers have signed on to provide the first of as many as 150 entertainment channels through DirecTv, a new television distribution service launching in early 1994. The service, offered to rural areas by the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC) and its local affiliates, will carry subscription and pay-per-view programming using an 18-inch digital receiving antenna.
 The Family Channel, USA Network, Superstation TBS, Turner MGM, Cable News Network, CNN Headline News, the Cartoon Network, Sci-Fi Channel, The Nashville Network, Country Music Television, the Disney Channel, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Columbia TriStar International Television and Paramount Pictures are among those already committed to provide DirecTv information and entertainment programming.
 "The involvement of these leading channels and networks moves us another step closer to the exciting reality of quality, universal television viewing for all rural Americans," said Bob Phillips, NRTC's chief executive officer.


Phillips said more than 250 telephone and electric utilities across the country have made commitments to provide the new service to millions of households. "The biggest appeal to consumers is the small price tag and the small digital antenna -- about the size of a pizza platter."
 The receiving system and 18-inch antenna are expected to cost less than $700 and will include a state-of-the-art remote control unit developed by RCA. The antenna is designed to be installed in a fixed position and will receive digital signals directly from a new high power satellite set to launch this December. In the meantime, providers of the older, larger and more expensive


systems are scrambling to sell their products before DirecTv arrives.
 According to NRTC's Jeff Almen, director of business development, "There is nothing on the market today that comes close to DirecTv service in terms of compact size, low price, programming variety and digital quality reception." He added that the many "pretenders" claiming to offer similar services are really repackaging older systems to make them look like DirecTv. "Unfortunately, many rural consumers will be tricked by these firms and end up with an outdated, more expensive and lower quality service," Almen said.
 DirecTv is a subsidiary of Hughes Communications, Inc., a unit of GM Hughes Electronics. NRTC, through its local member/affiliates, is offering the service to rural areas not served by cable.
 -0- 5/21/93
 /NOTE: DirecTv is a trademark./
 /CONTACT: Jeff Almen, 703-787-0874, or Tom Waldinger, 410-361-6161, both for the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative/


CO: National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative ST: IN: ENT TLS CPR SU: PDT

DC-IH -- DC019 -- 1377 05/21/93 18:14 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:May 21, 1993
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