Despite AMC-14 Setback, DISH Sticks to HD Plans

DISH Network said on Tuesday that plans to enhance its HD programming lineup this spring remain on track despite the launch anomaly experienced by the AMC-14 satellite during the past weekend.

In a statement, DISH Network Chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen pointed out that the company has two more satellites scheduled for launch later this year. He also said the company is sticking to its year-end goal of 100 local HD markets and 100 national HD channels.

DISH said upcoming national HD announcements may include the addition of high-def nets from ABC Family, AMC, BET, Biography Channel, Bravo, Cartoon Network, CMT, CNN, Disney Channel, ESPN News, HBO2, IFC, MGM, MoreMAX, MTV, Nickelodeon, Sci-Fi, Smithsonian Channel, Starz Edge, Tennis Channel, Superstation WGN, Weather Channel, Toon Disney, USA Network and VH-1.

The company also said it will increase its local high-def offering with the addition of HD broadcast networks next month for the following markets: Abilene, Texas; Austin, Texas; Baltimore; Columbia, S.C.; Flint, Mich.; Ft. Myers, Fla.; Greensboro, N.C.; Milwaukee; Orlando; Providence, R.I.; Tampa; and West Palm Beach, Fla. Local HD launches for May include Beaumont, Texas; Burlington, Vt.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Green Bay, Wis.; Greenville, S.C.; Huntsville, Ala.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Norfolk, Va.; and Richmond, Va.

Late Friday, the AMC-14 satellite built for SES AMERICOM, which has a lease agreement with DISH for use of the bird, failed to reach its proper orbit after a launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The satellite is not a total loss, however, and SES and satellite manufacturer Lockheed Martin said they have engineers exploring various options for placing AMC-14 into its correct geostationary orbit.