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Traditional TV Must Become HDTV to Survive

In yet another of her very detailed interviews, itvt's Tracy Swedlow asks Eric Shanks, EVP Entertainment for DirecTV the ultimate question -- "Do you see broadband video on the Web as a threat to traditional television?"

His response regarding the consequence is a dire prediction, with the apparent antidote being a swift move to high definition programming.

Shanks: "Yes. I think that the Web is a real threat to certain cable channels if they don't really quickly go to HDTV. A lot of these basic pay TV channels definitely risk being marginalized by the Internet, because the Internet will offer increasingly compelling, and very watchable video. The difference that these cable channels can make in order to stay relevant with customers is to go to HDTV as soon as possible."

"I think that channels that are slow to go to HD are going to start to feel squeezed and to lose viewership sooner rather than later. HDTV is hugely important in that it's the biggest advantage that traditional broadcast infrastructures have over the Internet. I simply can't stress that enough. At DirecTV, we're trying to instill into programmers that the longer they wait to go to HD, the closer they are to being marginalized by the Internet. Basic cable channels have to go to high-def or they will die."

In other related news, industry analysts are closely monitoring DirecTV's planned capital investment to launch two more satellites next year, that will more than quadruple its capacity in the delivery of HD programming. The two satellites will provide the company with the ability to offer more than 150 national HD channels and more than 1,500 local HD channels. It's not yet clear how exactly they intend to fill that huge capacity with HD programming.

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