Dish Network rolls out MPEG-4 HD to more US markets

Yesterday, Dish Network announced that 21 new markets will be transmitting content in MPEG-4, bringing the total US Markets using the standard to 52. In six of these added markets, local HD channels were added to content rosters.

The 21 new markets are: Abilene-Sweetwater, Sherman, and Waco-Temple-Bryan TX; Atlanta; Birmingham (Anniston and Tuscaloosa), and Huntsville-Decatur (Florence) AL; Chattanooga and Memphis, TN; Columbia-Jefferson City, Joplin-Pittsburg, and St. Louis MO; Des Moines-Ames, IA; Florence-Myrtle-Beach, SC; Ft. Myers-Naples, and Mobile-Pensacola (Ft. Walton Beach), FL; Jackson, MS; Lincoln, Omaha, and Hastings-Kearney, NE; Quincy-Hannibal-Keokuk, IL; Ada, OK; South Bend-Elkhart, IN; and Topeka, KS. Of these markets, Nebraska, Illinois, and Iowa as well as Columbia-Jefferson City, MO; and Waco-Temple-Bryan, Texas will receive high definition local channels.

Last August in a 10-Q filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Dish listed its prolonged transition to H.264/MPEG-4 as a factor potentially hurting the company. At the time, subscriber acquisition had dropped into negative figures.

The other main detriment to the company is its ongoing battle with TiVo over a DVR feature that TiVo claimed infringed upon its "Time Warp" patent. But earlier this month, Dish's former parent company EchoStar agreed to settle with TiVo for approximately $104 million after the US Supreme court denied EchoStar's appeal. TiVo continues to seek its permanent injunction upon EchoStar's infringing products.

Meanwhile, Dish continues what it called earlier this year "the biggest HD upgrade in pay TV history," for users of its MPEG-4 HD and HD DVR receivers, offering up to 150 channels in 1080p HD.

If TiVo is granted its permanent injunction, it would ostensibly only affect two Dish DVRs, known in the patent hearings as the "50X" and the "Broadcom," and not its current HD receivers.

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