Copyright 2003 The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune (Utah)
September 9, 2003, Tuesday
If Comcast has its way, couch potatoes may never leave the house again.
The Wasatch Front’s primary cable provider announced Monday that a majority of its subscribers today can start signing up for high-definition television (HDTV) access.
Beginning Sept. 29, cable subscribers will be able to receive HDTV programming from NBC affiliate KSL, ABC affiliate KTVX and PBS’ KUED, not to mention HBO, Showtime, ESPN and other cable services.
High-definition television provides crisp digital audio and video signals, creating a picture that is as much as six times sharper than a conventional television picture.
Comcast’s Utah Vice President Gary Waterfield said the company has poured about $200 million into upgrading fiber-optic cable service along the Wasatch Front. About 170,000 of Comcast’s 240,000 subscribers are wired to get the enhanced service, Comcast spokeswoman Barb Shelley said. The Wasatch Front will join about 80 other HDTV markets around the country.
Viewers, however, also will need a Comcast digital subscription; an HD television set costing $1,000 to $4,000, and an HD cable box, which can be rented for $5 a month from Comcast.
A cable subscriber at the most basic level in an upgraded area, for example, will need to spend about $55 more a month on cable to upgrade to receive the high-definition signal.
The high-definition option will give cable a competitive edge over nemesis satellite dish networks, Waterfield said. For technical and licensing reasons, satellite dish television cannot provide as broad a lineup of high-definition fare.
Comcast will offer hundreds of hours of HDTV every week, from “The Sopranos” to “Sesame Street.”
But sports broadcasts and movies garner the biggest interest in HDTV, Waterfield said. For instance, ABC’s “Monday Night Football” will be offered in high-definition splendor.
The Wasatch Front’s first major high-definition event, Shelley said, will be KSL’s broadcast of October’s general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.